If you have flat feet, also known as pes planus, it means that the arch of your foot almost, or does, touch the floor. Generally, this is not a problem in most people. With the right support, your flat feet will not give you problems. Your flat foot condition usually occurred because either your arches did not grow during childhood, or they developed after an injury from the stresses of age. If you are having some pain, it is best to speak to your foot doctor. You may need some support or advice on the right type of shoes to wear. If you are not having any pain, then no treatment is necessary.
Causes of flat foot
Flat foot is a normal occurrence in infants and toddlers. As we grow, the arches in our feet develop. Flat foot occurs when your arches fail to develop. This is just a variation of foot types, and is generally nothing to worry about.
As we get older, your arches can also begin to fall. Years of standing, walking, exercise, puts wear and tear on your feet and your tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle. This is called the tibialis posterior tendon, and it is what supports your arch. When this tendon is worn out, it cannot give the same support to the arch, which is what causes it to fall.
In addition to the typical causes of pes planus, there are factors that can increase your risk:
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- An extra navicular bone
Symptoms of flat foot
Generally, there are no specific symptoms of flat feet. Pain is the only indication that something is wrong. You may need to seek help from your foot doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- If your feel any foot pain, ankle pain, arch pain or other pain in your legs and back. These may seem run of the mill, but if you cannot determine what is causing the pain, it may be stemming from your feet.
- If your calf feels tired and cramped, it may mean your calf is working harder to compensate for the weakened tendon. This can lead to worse injuries if not treated.
- If your shoes are beginning to wear out quicker than usual, it may mean you are not walking as smoothly as you should due to your flat feet. This too can lead to worse injuries.
Treatments for flat foot
Treatment for flat feet is only necessary if you are experiencing pain, such as ankle pain, or are at risk for injury. You can speak with your foot doctor to determine the best option for your situation. You can visit your primary doctor, and then be referred to a specialist. Once you have an appointment scheduled here are a few things you can do to prepare:
- Wear comfortable, everyday shoes to your appointment. You will want the foot doctor to see what you normally wear so that you can get a recommendation for better footwear if necessary and so that the doctor can see the pattern of the soles.
- Consider the answer to questions that might be askes, such as when you first noticed the problem, any other medical problems, if others in your family have flat feet, any injuries, etc.
Prior to determining treatment, the doctor may use image testing, such as x-rays, to further evaluate the problem.
Most doctors will provide non-surgical treatments, but sometimes surgery is required. Here are some of the treatments that you could be subjected to:
- Arch support devices, such as orthotics.
- Stretching therapy exercises, including calf stretches
- More supportive foot wear.
- Prescribed painkillers if necessary.
- Losing weight to take pressure off your foot if necessary.
All of these options will be utilized prior to the thought of surgery. For example, if you have a tendon tear or rupture, it might require surgery. Depending on what the cause of your flat foot is will determine whether surgery is necessary.
If you are experiencing problems, speak with your doctor to determine if treatment is needed.
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