Fallen arches is a term commonly used to describe a flatfoot condition that develops during adulthood. This should not be confused with other causes of flatfoot that may develop during childhood or adolescence.
Most cases of fallen arches develop when the main arch-supporting tendon (the posterior tibial tendon) becomes weakened or injured, causing the arch to gradually become lower. With time, the shape of the foot changes and secondary symptoms start to appear.
Common problems associated with fallen arches include plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, increased fatigue and arthritis of the foot and ankle.
Pain across the bottom of the foot at any point between the heel and the ball of the foot is often referred to as arch pain. Although this description is nonspecific, most arch pain is due to strain or inflammation of the plantar fascia (a long ligament on the bottom of the foot). This condition is known as plantar fasciitis and is sometimes associated with a heel spur.
In most cases, arch pain develops from overuse, unsupportive shoes, weight gain or acute injury. If arch pain persists beyond a few days, see a foot and ankle surgeon for treatment to prevent this condition from becoming worse.
Arch supports are devices that are placed into one’s shoes to support the arch and diminish or eliminate pain. A foot and ankle surgeon may provide advice on which type is best for your foot type, and you may be able to obtain arch supports from the doctor’s office. Arch supports can also be purchased without a prescription from drug, shoe and sporting goods stores.