What is flat foot?
Flat foot is a condition where the arch of your foot collapses. This can happen when the ligaments and tendons that support your arch become too stretched or relaxed. It can also be caused by injury, arthritis, or other conditions that damage the feet. While it is common not to experience pain or symptoms of flat feet, some people tend to sense pain in their heel.
What causes flat feet?
Although infants are born with it, the bones' ligaments usually tighten as children's muscles develop as they learn to walk. However, due to genetics, injury, or certain medical conditions, flat feet can return in adult life. The following are the most common causes of flat feet:
- Congenital vertical talus: This is a condition where the arch is absent in the foot. It occurs when one or more bones in the foot don't form correctly during fetal development. An injury can also cause the condition to the foot during childhood.
- Fallen arches: Commonly also called adult-acquired flatfoot deformity, this condition occurs when the tendons that support the arch of your foot become weak or torn. This can be caused by several things, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and prolonged standing or walking.
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD): This condition occurs when the tendon that supports the arch of your foot becomes weak or damaged. The tendon then stretches or tears, and the arch of your foot begins to fall. PTTD is common in middle-aged women and is usually caused by wear and tear on the tendon.
What are the symptoms of flat feet?
The most common symptom of flat feet is pain in the heel. The pain can increase by activities such as standing, walking, or running for long periods. Flat feet can also lead to other problems like:
- Calluses on the foot or heel
- Shin splints
- Back, Hip, and Knee pain
- Toe drift
- Gait changes
- Leg cramps
- Postural changes
- Swelling of the soles
- Alterations in the shape of foot bones
How is flat foot diagnosed?
If your wet footprints are wide instead of shaped like a C, that's a good indicator of flat feet. Dr. Hassan can confirm the condition by asking questions about your medical history and watching how you stand and walk. He may also examine the wear pattern of the soles of your shoes to see how your feet distribute your body weight. Diagnostic tests such as x-rays and an MRI might be necessary to show tissue and bone changes.
How are flat feet treated?
No pain means no treatment. If pain exists, the first step is determining the cause. The second step is choosing the gentlest and easiest types of treatment. The goal is to eliminate or decrease pain and improve foot function without surgery.
Non-surgical treatment might include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Stretching exercises
- Custom orthotics or arch supports
- Physical therapy
- Using properly fitting footwear
- Over-the-counter medications, including ointments as well as oral pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
- If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar well-controlled will help reduce the risk of complications from flat feet
Surgical treatment might include:
- Fusion of bones in the foot or ankle
- Tendon transfer
- Ligament repair
- Excision of a bone
- The type of surgical procedure will depend on the severity of the condition and where the pain is located. Surgery is not often necessary to treat flat feet.
How can I prevent flat feet?
Since we are all born with flat feet, they can't be prevented, but by paying attention to our general health throughout our lives, we can help our feet stay strong longer. By learning more about proper foot care, we'll know when to seek medical advice.
What are the possible complications of flat feet?
Flat feet by themselves aren't dangerous, but they might increase the likelihood of other problems. Back pain follows as the knees and hips are thrown out of alignment. Eventually, the muscles and bones adjust to compensate, so some physical deformities become permanent as arthritis develops.
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Dr. Hassan's goal is to treat flat feet and prevent the worst by detecting problems early, stopping further damage, and restoring your feet to the best they can be. Schedule an appointment today!Book Appointment →