What is a Flat Foot?
Having a flat foot refers to having one or both feet( rarely)with little or no arch. There are two arches in the feet- the median longitudinal arch and the lateral arch. An abnormality in the arches causes a flat foot. On standing, if you feel that your entire foot touches the shoe instead of just the heel and toes, it could be a flat foot.
Most flat feet are undiagnosed for a long period and do not usually cause any problems. However, pain in the feet on walking with advancing age can be one of the first indications of a flat foot. When the arches of the feet fall, or dysfunction of the arches.
Flat feet can either be rigid, flexible, acquired with age, or due to a birth defect. Leg cramps, muscle pains, stiffness, weakness, or numbness are primary symptoms. If left untreated leads to problems in walking and balance.
Risk Factors or Causes of Flat foot:
Recent injury or trauma to feet
Achilles tendon injury
Broken or dislocated bones
Arthritis of the foot bones, and
In conditions from birth like cerebral palsy
What is Faradic Current?
Faradic current is a short duration of direct current. It has a pulse rate ranging from 0.1 to 1 ms with a frequency of 50 to 100 Hz.
Faradic current creates prolonged contraction and relaxation of innervated muscle ( nerve intact).
Treatment with faradic current is otherwise called faradism.
An innervated muscle is one in which the muscle is connected to a nerve. Wherein the nerve is not damaged.
While applying faradic current, the patient experiences a pricking sensation due to short pulse duration.
Whereas denervated muscle doesn't react to faradic current as the pulse rate is short.
How is Galvanic current different from Faradic current?
Galvanic current is a continuous long-duration direct current with a frequency of 30HZ and a pulse rate of more than 1ms up to 300ms or 600ms. This kind of current is utilised for muscles that don't have a functioning nerve.
The denervated muscle doesn't react to faradic current as the pulse rate is short.
Physiological Effect of Faradic current
The physiological impact of faradic and galvanic are something very similar. Faradic current is used for innervated muscle and galvanic for denervated muscle.
Both the currents increases the blood flow to the treated region due to widening of blood vessels that leads to slight skin redness
Additionally, both currents produce muscle contraction similar to normal muscle contraction.
The faradic and galvanic current also increases the metabolism and eliminates by-products.
Brings more blood supply and nutrients to the muscle. Hence increasing the overall oxygen and ions supply to the muscle as the muscle requires calcium, potassium, and sodium to contract.
Galvanic current influences nerve endings involved in pain perception. It decreases or eliminates pain completely.
Indications for faradic current:
Need to bring about muscle contraction when affected with pain
Muscle re-education: muscle contraction is needed to re-establish the feeling of movement.
To improve venous and lymphatic to reduce swelling and ulcers
Prevention and loosening of scars
Prominently required in treating foot drop and tightened calf muscles(spastic rigidity) along with exercise regimen
Contraindication for faradic current
Skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, skin irritation, wounds, etc
Thrombosis( blood clots in the blood vessel)
Skin Irritation, unhealed wounds
Loss of sensation in the area
Body implants( heart etc)
Treatment for Flat Foot
NSAIDs- (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs) to relieve pain.
Physiotherapy exercises - to improve stability and mobility. These are long-term ways of managing flat feet.
Faradic foot bath.
Supportive devices - orthotics,custom made shoes and braces can be used for supporting the feet.
Surgery if other treatment options do not work
Faradic Foot Bath for Flat foot
Faradic stimulation is also used for treating foot problems. It is commonly used for muscle re-education by Physiotherapists. In flat foot – the head of the talus bone is displaced inwards and away from the navicular. As a result, the spring ligament and the tendon of the tibialis posterior muscles are stretched, so much so that the individual with a flat foot loses the function of the medial longitudinal arch (inner arch).
Things Required & Procedure
A tray, pen electrodes, room-temperature water, and the faradic-galvanic machine are used. The electrical stimulation is provided in the water. This helps in faster and higher seepage of the current to the foot muscles. As well as helps in reducing the redness caused by these currents.
Electric stimulation of frequencies above 60 Hz is used. It helps in improving the muscular strength of the feet muscles. The pattern of electrical stimulation is set at a specific range. This is to reduce a maximum prolonged contraction within the patient's pain threshold.
The Faradic current's intensity is determined by the patient's tolerance.
Generally, the following parameters are used:
Pulse Mode 10 minutes (10 Sec Contraction with 50 Sec rest period and 10 repetitions).
There should be a minimum of 5 sessions per week for 3 weeks.
The patient is placed in a sitting position, with their legs placed in a tray of water. The tray should preferably be a plastic tray. This is to avoid any chemical exchange if a metal tray is used.
Two electrodes are usually used. This is done to stimulate the intrinsic muscles of the foot.
The most accurate way to treat a flat foot is with exercises( along with other above-mentioned treatment measures if required) The physiotherapist will train the affected leg muscles to enable appropriate support for the feet while standing, walking, and weight-bearing.
Stretching exercises - helps in maintaining the integrity of the muscle and ligaments. Heel raises on the staircase, towel stretch while sitting with legs straight, plantar fascia stretch, stork stretch are some examples.
Mobility and strengthening exercises - These aim at relieving pain and smooth functioning of the muscles of the affected area. Toe crawling, toe extension, towel scrunches are some examples. Weights and resistance bands are used for further strengthening and endurance purposes.
Faradic Foot Bath is found to be effective in people with the flat foot along with targeted exercises. Exercises are given after faradic stimulation that is mainly focused on muscle re-education, strengthening. It helps improve the medial longitudinal arch.
Thus helping in improving the ability of the person to do daily activities like walking, sitting, jogging, stair climbing, etc without much effort.
Illustrations designed by freepik