Many people are plagued with a foot condition known as fallen arches (also known as flat feet). This condition is relatively easy to diagnose and treat, yet some people with this condition accept it as an irreversible sign of age or heredity.
A fallen arch (pes planus) occurs when the arch or instep of either foot gives way and touches the ground.
Signs of fallen arches include swelling and pain along the inside of your ankle, a flat appearance to your feet, unevenness in the wear of your shoes, foot pain and the frequently tilting of your heel away from the body's midline.
The loss of arch support can be caused by a number of situations. They include obesity, continuous stresses on your feet (including high heels), injury to either your foot, ankle or both, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, weakened muscles, diabetes or simply wearing shoes that do not provide sufficient arch support.
Fallen arches can contribute to or worsen other foot problems. These include pain in the ligaments on the bottom of your foot (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendinitis, bunions and/or calluses, stress fractures to your lower leg and shin splints. Also, you could find it difficult or be unable to walk or run normally.
Your doctor can examine your feet, observing them from all sides and have you stand on your toes to determine the mechanics of your feet. Then, to see the bones and structure of your feet, he may order an X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of them. He can then recommend treatment or therapy according to the results.
If your arch failure is because of obesity, it would be advisable to begin a weight-loss program since weight can cause continued collapse and eventual injury to the feet. Pick up or carry only moderately weighted objects and only for short distances.
Custom arch supports can be found at quality shoe stores, especially those that employ certified pedorthists (sales specialists certified in the study of foot structure, especially of customers who have foot problems). These can be used in many shoes you wear.
If you have diabetes, consult with your doctor as to the type of therapy and shoes that will alleviate your pain. If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, ask your doctor to include fallen-arch therapy in your overall treatment.