Flat feet can lead to all sorts of problems with the feet, ankles and back. But we have a lot of tools in our podiatry toolbox to help support the feet and avoid problems.
Feet are considered flat when the arch is flattened and the entire foot touches the floor when you stand. If you’ve ever walked down the beach and noticed your footprints lack the C-shape of other footprints, you could have flat feet. You might not experience any pain or problems, or you might experience pain in the heel or arch area, ankle swelling or a difficulty standing on your tippy toes or for long periods of time.
Some people are just born with flat feet, while others have normal arches that gradually flatten over time. Acquired flatfoot can be the result of injury, a particularly tight Achilles tendon, abnormal sitting or sleeping positions when you were little, the general wear and tear that comes with age, or by trying to compensate for other leg or foot problems. If you’re obese, you’re also at a higher risk of developing flatfeet.
It’s important to note that kids don’t typically develop arches until about age six or seven, so if your child’s feet are flat, there’s probably nothing to worry about. But for adults, flat feet will lead to pronation, which is a fancy name for the foot rolling inward as you walk.
The body is a well-oiled machine and every single piece of you is designed to work with another piece of you. So when something like the alignment of your ankles is thrown off, it impacts just about everything. The bones in the feet can actually shift over time, and the muscles and tendons in the leg and ankle will twist. This can lead to a wide array of conditions including plantar fasciitis, plantar fibroma, neuromas, heel spurs, shin splints, ankle sprains, bunions, hammertoes, calluses, and pain in the arches, knee, hip and lower back.
That’s not a pretty list, right? The good news is that these things don’t have to happen. Call our office for an appointment and we’ll help you avoid this litany of foot issues.
For patients that have or are developing flatfeet that are causing pain, our first course of action is to figure out what’s causing the arches to flatten. We’ll examine your feet, how you walk and stand, and may take an X-ray to get a better look.
Most patients with flat feet react well to non-invasive treatments like orthotics, shoe recommendations, anti-inflammatory medications and exercises designed to strengthen the foot. In most cases, the orthotics need to be custom-made to fit your feet to really help the problem, so we don’t recommend just picking some up at Walmart. Surgery is rarely necessary but may be an option for severe cases that do not respond to more conservative treatments.
If you think you have flat feet or are experiencing pain in your arches, call our office for an appointment.