Flat Feet Science and Treatments

Podiatry is not exactly a popular field of medicine but this is not to say it is unimportant. Among our major problems in heart, kidney, liver, lungs and other internal organs, discomfort in our feet is most likely easy to ignore.  And this is also not to say that some of our common feet ailments are not just as serious.  In fact, most of them are deceivingly so common it is easy to miss the severity.

Podiatry or podiatric medicine exists for this reason.  It is a branch of medicine that focuses on the study, diagnosis, medical and surgical disorders of foot, ankle and lower extremities.  By extension, this branch of science treats a wide variety of foot and lower extremity conditions through non-surgical and surgical approaches.

The more common ailments treated by podiatry nail and foot fungus which are more hygienic issues than actual physiological ailments; bunion, where a bony bump forms on the joint at the base of the big toe and forces the joint of the big toe to get bigger and stick out; corns and calluses which are hard thickened areas of skin that form as a result of rubbing, friction and pressure on the skin and may make walking painful.

But perhaps the most important concern of podiatry is flat feet, a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with ground that causes the leg to turn inward and can cause serious injuries.

In Singapore, a more common form of flat-footedness is plantar fasciitis which is also a relatively new type of flat footed injury. Plantar fasciitis is caused by chronic irritation of the arch of the foot due to excessive strain and various other causes including bone spurs, flat feet, pronation and tight calves. It is simply a recurring strain injury among people who uses their feet and legs heavily. It is therefore common among runners, hikers and even cashiers who stand for considerable amounts of time.  The injury is a repeating combination of minor foot, arch and heel pain but there are more serious or severe cases that lead to temporary or permanent disability.

There are simple medication and common pain relievers like Ibofrupen like Advil and Motrin IB as well as Naprozen Sodium such as Aleve had proven success in alleviating pain from plantar fasciitis. More long-term and corrective solutions involve continuous therapy for a sustained period. In Singapore such continuous physical therapy for plantar fasciitis is expected to heal fascia ligaments and correct foot problems such as flat footedness. Physical therapies like stretching using special devices like plantar fasciitis insoles or custom insoles, now available in many Singapore flat foot treatment centres, can provide symptom relief and strengthen plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, leg muscles that assist ankles and knees.  Arch support braces can also serve the same purpose by providing support for the stretching of the feet and distribute weight more evenly. 

When continuous physical therapy or prolonged use of insoles for flat feet do not suffice, there are more intensive flat foot treatments that involve injections of steroid medication to relieve heavy pains for more extended periods. Platelet-rich plasma has also been made available for this purpose and is considered a relatively better option since it involves less risk of tissue rapture while the extracorporeal shockwave therapy which directs sound waves to the heel to relieve pain and stimulate healing is a rigorous process that is advisable only for patients with chronic plantar fasciitis and do not respond to more conservative treatment methods.


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