Fallen Arches: Raising Awareness
About This Common Lipedema Side Effect
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Lipedema is a chronic fat deposition disorder that often leads to other health and physical challenges if left untreated. The phenomenon of flat feet is one of them.
Flat feet or “fallen arches” is a prevalent characteristic of the feet for many people and usually doesn’t cause physical complications or the need for surgery unless they’re accompanied by pain, discomfort, and restricted mobility. In the case of lipedema, flat feet occur due to excessive weight gain, putting a substantial strain on the muscles, joints, and tendons that contribute to the normal curvature of the foot.
What are Flat Feet?
The flat feet phenomenon is when the entirety of the foot touches the ground when the person is standing completely upright, with no visible curvature characteristic or arch from the inside of the foot. Here’s a fun foot fact: all babies and small children naturally have flat feet but will usually develop arches by the age of six. And, for those children who don’t ever develop arches in their feet, there is usually no cause for alarm, and they’re able to function and partake in everyday activities and sports just like someone with arched soles. Just as someone may be right-handed or left-handed, someone may be flat-footed or have arched feet. SOURCE
The Lipedema Link to Flat Feet
While flat feet are a condition that usually doesn’t give rise to other physical impediments or pain, flat feet can eventually develop from prolonged obesity or excessive weight gain, especially in the lower extremities. The bulky buildup of fat in lipedema-stricken legs can cause stress in the foot’s tendons and ligaments, leading to excessive wear and tear, and yes, fallen arches. If you’ve been living with lipedema and have begun experiencing fallen arches, seek immediate treatment if:
- Feet are causing pain
- Feet are causing balance and mobility issues
- Only one foot is affected
Flat Feet Fixes
Ultimately, surgical intervention to remove your lipedema fat will serve your distressed soles well. Removing the burdensome buildup of fat through MLE (Manual Lipedema Extraction) will prove to be not only a successful, long-term fix for your overall health but your feet, as well. However, there are other therapies you can treat your tootsies to in the meantime, including:
- Getting fitted for braces that help stabilize, protect, and limit movement of the damaged joint
- Physical therapy that implements stretches specific to the feet that will improve flexibility and function
- Wearing wide, comfortable shoes with a low to no heel
- Wearing insoles for arch support
While reconstruction surgery can restore mobility, flexibility, and functionality to flat feet and boasts a high success rate, it isn’t without complications. While the procedure is considered relatively low-risk and usually doesn’t require further treatment beyond the recovery period, it isn’t for everyone. Long, painful recovery of up to 6-8 weeks, followed by intense physical therapy, the possibility of forming blood clots and subsequent nerve damage, extensive time spent in a cast, plus the possibility of incisions or bones not healing correctly, worsening symptoms, make reconstruction surgery for flat feet not a viable option for lipedema patients.
A Step in the Right Direction
If you’ve always had arched soles and have suddenly seen them begin to fall, it’s no fun. However, taking steps to help mitigate the pain while improving mobility and overall foot function will make a world of difference in your quality of life. While you can take small steps, such as wearing appropriate footwear, seeing a physical therapist, and being fitted for braces, getting to the core of the issue will yield the best outcome. Surgical intervention to help remove lipedema fat buildup is the most viable way of removing unnecessary pressure from foot joints, tendons, and ligaments.
To learn more, please contact our Beverly Hills, California office to schedule a consultation with any of our highly trained specialists