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Treating the Painful Flatfoot

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Link to flat feet in children

Our doctors have national reputations as experts in the treatment of flatfoot – particularly in relieving the pain associated with flat feet by non-surgical methods.

Not all flat feet cause problems. Those that do, however, can lead to a variety of problems including heel pain, tired feet, bunions, knee pain, back pain and arthritis. In fact, several medical studies point to a close relationship between flat feet and arthritis of the foot and ankle.

Don't live with the pain caused by flat feet. Call us today for an appointment at our convenient Seattle office.

The most important aspect of treatment is determining the exact type or underlying cause of flat feet that you have. Dr. Hale and Dr. Huppin can determine this through thorough clinical examination and special imaging studies (e.g., x-rays, CT, and/or MRI).

Conservative treatment is effective in the vast majority of flat foot cases, and consists of treatments such as orthotics, shoe recommendations, anti-inflammatory measures and special strengthening exercises. Surgery is rarely required, and is reserved only for the most severe types of flat foot that do not respond to conservative therapy.

Custom Orthotics for Flat Feet
Many people who have flat feet have tried both over-the-counter and custom orthotics in the past and had poor outcomes. This is due to the fact that standard orthotic devices do not provide enough control to support a flatfoot. This results in orthotics that are uncomfortable, ineffective or both. Medical studies in the past decade, however, have shown how orthotics must be made in order to be both very effective at relieving symptoms and very comfortable for the patient to wear. We follow strict protocol to ensure effectiveness of our orthotics and we guarantee orthotic comfort. The use of proper orthotics can help prevent further flattening of the foot and the need for surgery. Read more here about why our orthotics tend to work better. Read more here about why our orthotics tend to work better.

Over-the-counter Orthotics for Flat Feet
We recommend OTC orthotics for many foot problems. OTC orthotics, however, typically do not provide enough support to relieve the pain associated with flat feet. It usually requires a very specialized custom orthotic to support the tremendous forces applied by the flat foot.

Ankle Foot Orthotics
More severe cases of flat foot may require the use of ankle foot orthotics (AFOs). One benefit of this treatment is that several studies have shown that after a period of time wearing the AFO, many patients improve to a point that they will later only need foot orthotics.

We will recommend specific shoes that offer greater support for the flat foot. We can help you find everything from athletic shoes to dress shoes. And they don’t have to be ugly.

We will prescribe specific strengthening exercises for your particular problem

Flat feet that do not respond to conservative therapies, remain painful, and/or continue to cause other problems, may require surgery. Again, the surgical procedure selected is entirely dependent on the type and severity of flat foot, as well as the age of the patient. And again, we will not consider surgery until all conservative treatment has been exhausted.

There are many different causes and types of flat feet

Congenital flat foot is a condition that one is born with.. This foot type is a result of the fact that all people are born with different features. Some people have bigger noses than others, just as some people have flatter feet This type may or may not cause problems later in life.

Acquired flat foot, develops over time, rather than at birth and is likely to cause pain and other symptoms – including the development of arthritis in the feet. Many different factors can contribute to the development of flat feet. These include a child's sitting or sleeping positions, compensation for other abnormalities further up the leg, or more severe factors such as rupture of ligaments or tendons in the foot. A common cause for flat feet is that the foot is compensating for a tight Achilles tendon. If the Achilles tendon is tight, then it causes the foot flatten. The most common acquired flat foot in adults is due to Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction.

The doctors at the Foot and Ankle Center of Washington are among the Puget Sound area’s best and most experienced in treating flat feet both conservatively and surgically. Don’t live with pain due to flat feet. Call today for an appointment in our Seattle office.

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Foot orthoses for the severe flatfoot in sports. Blake RL, Ferguson H: JAPMA, 81:549, 1991.

Pediatric flatfoot: evaluation and management. Sullivan JA. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 1999 Jan;7(1):44-53. Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Oklahoma City 73126-0307, USA.

Randomized clinical trial into the impact of rigid foot orthoses on balance parameters in excessively pronated feet. Rome K, Brown CL: Clin Rehab, 18:624-630, 2004

Conservative treatment of posterior tibial dysfunction Kirby KA:. Podiatry Management, 19:73-82, 2000.

Radiographic evaluation of weight-bearing orthotics and their effect on flexible pes planus. Kuhn DR, Shibley NJ, Austin WM, Yochum TR. J Manip Physiol Ther 1999; 22(4): 221-226.

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All pages on this website © 2005-2013
Douglas Hale, DPM & Lawrence Huppin, DPM
Foot and Ankle Center of Washington, Seattle
The material provided on this web site is for informative purposes only.
If you need specific medical advice, please contact the office for an appointment.

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