Why do I have fallen arches?

Our feet are charged with supporting our entire bodies, maintaining our balance, and acting as shock absorbers. They are under constant strain: even a gentle stroll causes stress to the feet, particularly the arches. And because our arches can wear down overtime, this stress can lead to pain in other regions of the body as well as in the feet.

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Fallen arches can affect your entire body. (image courtesy of Footlevelers.com)

What we call the arch of the foot is actually three arches made up of the bones of the feet. Ligaments and tendons made of semi-flexible fibers connect these bones. The fibers bend and stretch as we walk, but, unlike other more flexible fibers in the body, they are less elastic and more plastic (rigid). Consider the difference between a rubber band and a piece of taffy. If you stretch out a rubber band, it will snap back to its original shape. But if you pull on a piece of hard taffy, the taffy will just stretch. It will regain some of its original shape, but as you continue pulling it, the taffy will begin to lengthen until it wears thin and loses its shape: once you stretch a piece of taffy, it will never be the same again.

The arches of your feet are like taffy. Normal use slowly breaks down the fibers in the arches until they can no longer support the rest of the foot. The arches collapse, causing overpronation of the foot which pulls on the fascia of the bottoms of the feet and can lead to plantar fasciitis as well as pain in the ankles, Achilles tendon, and the inside of the knee. Fallen arches can also cause or contribute to lower back pain and lateral hip pain.

Fallen arches occur more often over the age of forty and in women. While they can occur through normal wear and tear, a fall or regular participation in high-impact sports can increase the likelihood of damage to the arches. In addition, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and steroid injections may contribute to the degradation of the arch. Your genes can play a role in the development of fallen arches or flat feet as well. For example, if your mother or father had dropped arches or flat feet, you may as well.

The good news is that you can do something about it. Orthotics can provide support when your arch collapses, preventing plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, and ankle pain from developing. If you are already suffering from arch-related issues, orthotics can lessen the pain and correct the strain on your feet and bring that spring back into your step.

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Our office recommends non-custom Superfeet (priced at $36-$46) and custom orthotics made from your own imprint by Footlevelers.

 

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Metatarsalgia – Pain under the ball of your foot!

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Pain under the ball of your foot? You may have metatarsalgia.

Metatarsalgia is pain of the metatarsal heads, where the toes meet the long foot bones, under the ball of the foot.
It is commonly described as: burning, sharp pain or aching pain beneath the toes. Some people will describe it as feeling like their sock is waded up in their shoe or like something is in their shoe.
Metatarsalgia is caused by a misalignment of the metatarsal bones relative to the phalangeal or toe bones, thereby causing stress and resulting inflammation and irritation to the soft tissues, the joint capsule and cartilage of the joint.
Contributing factors to this are the following:
High impact sport such as: running, basketball, aerobics/step class, etc because of the increased absorption of the forefoot upon impact. Worn, ill fitting and unsupportive shoes contribute significantly to increased pressure on the metatarsal heads.
Foot deformities and disease processes such as: high instep foot formations, pronation or dropped arches of the foot, hallux valgus or big toe bunions, Morton’s neuroma (a thickening of tissue around the nerves between the toes, typically between the 3rd and 4th toes) and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause increased pressure, inflammation or irritation of the metatarsal heads.
Poor fitting shoes including: high heeled shoes, wedge shoes (sole heel height is higher than toe height) and cowboy boots. These types of shoes transfer weight to the metatarsal heads thereby irritating this area. Shoes with a narrow toe box, tight fitting shoes and shoes that are too small can squeeze the toes together and result in stress upon the metatarsal heads.
Fractures of the foot, esp stress fractures of the metatarsals, can cause weight to shift onto the metatarsal heads because of compensation.
Aging and increased weight gain. As people age their fat pad on the bottom of their foot can get displaced and thinned causing increased pressure on the metatarsal joints. Weight gain, esp in the abdominal area, can cause the increased weight to shift forward onto the forefoot with exercise and even with simple walking.
Effective treatments:
Proper fitting shoes with adequate sole cushioning and flexible support.
Custom made, flexible orthotics (arch supports) are usually extremely effective for treating this condition. They should provide medial and transverse arch supports for the individual’s foot. The transverse arch will lift and spread the metatarsals in a slight curved nature in order to prevent “dropping” of the metatarsal heads.
Non custom, flexible orthotics may also be adequate to support the foot, thereby decreasing stress to the metatarsal heads
.Foot adjusting can realign the displaced metatarsal heads in relation to the toes and the other bones of the foot.
Low level, cold laser or ultrasound therapy to the metatarsal head area can decrease inflammation or irritation and significantly calm down the area.
Soaking your feet in hot, Epsom salt bath. This simple home remedy can take some of the soreness out of the foot.
Steroid injections, in severe, non responsive cases may be required. However, this should be avoided if possible as the corticosteroid injections can cause soft tissue, muscular, tendinous and cartilage tissue to degenerate or rupture. Never a good thing. (Don’t let it get to this point.)
There you have it. May you be walking along with ease soon!