WHAT ARE FLAT FEET?
You have flat feet when the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, enabling the entire soles of your feet to touch the ground when you stand up. Flat feet are also called pes planus.
A common and generally painless state, flat feet could happen when the arches do not develop during childhood. In other cases, flat feet develop after an injury or because of age-associated wear and tear.
Flat feet could sometimes contribute to issues in your ankles and knees because the condition could change the alignment of your legs. If you are not having pain, no treatment is generally necessary for flat feet.
FLAT FEET SYMPTOMS
Most people do not experience signs or symptoms related to flat feet. But some people with flat feet experience foot pain, especially in the heel or arch area. Pain might worsen with activity. Inflammation along the inside of the ankle could also happen.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR?
Talk to your doctor or primary care physician if you or your child has foot pain.
FLAT FEET CAUSES
A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers because the foot’s arch has not yet developed. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, although some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot kind, and people without arches may or may not have issues.
Some children have flexible flat feet, in which the arch is visible when the child is sitting or standing on tiptoes but disappears when the child is standing. Most children outgrow flexible flat feet without issues.
Arches could also fall over time. Years of wear and tear may weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps sustain your arch.
FLAT FEET RISK FACTORS
Factors that could increase your risk of flat feet include:
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
FLAT FEET DIAGNOSIS
To view the mechanics of your feet, your doctor or primary care physician will observe your feet from the front and back and ask you to stand on your toes. He or she may also look at the wear pattern on your shoes.
If you are having a lot of pain in your feet, your doctor or primary care physician might order tests like:
- X-rays – A simple X-ray uses a small amount of radiation to produce pictures of the bones and joints in your feet. It is especially useful in detecting arthritis.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan – This test takes X-rays of your foot from different angles and provides much more detail than a normal X-ray.
- Ultrasound – If your doctor or primary care physician suspects an injured tendon, he or she might request this test, which uses sound waves to produce detailed pictures of soft tissues within the body.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Using radio waves and a strong magnet, MRIs offer excellent detail of both hard and soft tissues.
FLAT FEET TREATMENT
No treatment is necessary for flat feet if they do not cause pain.
If your flat feet are painful, your doctor or primary care physician may recommend:
- Arch supports (orthotic devices) – Over-the-counter arch supports might help ease the pain caused by flat feet. Or your doctor or primary care physician may recommend custom-designed arch supports, which are molded to the contours of your feet. Arch supports would not cure flat feet, but they usually reduce symptoms.
- Stretching exercises – Some people who have flat feet also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Exercises to stretch this tendon might help.
- Supportive shoes – A structurally supportive shoe may be more comfortable than sandals or shoes with minimal support.
- Physical therapy – Flat feet might contribute to overuse injuries in some runners. A physical therapist could do a video analysis of how you run to help you improve your form and technique.
Surgery is not done solely to correct flat feet. Although, you may have surgery for a related problem, for example, a tendon tear or rupture.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from flat feet, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.