When you look at the side of your feet in the mirror, do you notice that they look kind of flat? If you don’t see a visible arch in the center, you might have a condition called “flat feet.”
If you suspect you have flat feet, don’t fret. Here is everything you need to know about this often harmless foot condition.
What are Flat Feet?
Flat feet, sometimes referred to as “fallen arches,” is a condition where you have very low or no arches. Due to this lack of arch, the entire sole of your foot touches the ground when you stand, as opposed to just the front pad and your heel.
Although oftentimes a painless condition, those with flat feet may experience pain or discomfort, or be more likely to roll their feet inward when walking, causing overpronation.
What Causes Flat Feet?
In most cases, those who experience flat feet never developed proper arch support as a child. This is often because of genetic factors. Fortunately, many don’t experience any pain— as they just know flat foot as their “normal” foot, since they never knew any different.
Others can develop flat feet due to:
- Foot or ankle injury, especially tendon damage or tendonitis
- Natural wear and tear from aging
- Obesity or pregnancy (from excessive weight)
The Difference Between Flat Feet & Misaligned Feet
People often mistake flat feet for another condition: foot misalignment. Misalignment occurs when the ankle bone loses its stability and slips out of place, usually over the heel bone, collapsing or compressing a space called the sinus tarsi.
Because both conditions can cause ankle bowing and overpronation, they can be hard to diagnose without a professional opinion. However, more often than not, flat feet is developed as a result of misalignment— not the other way around.
Flat Feet Symptoms
Oftentimes, those with flat feet don’t suffer from any pain, or require medical attention. However, some people do report pain or swelling in the heel or arch, worsening with activity. This is often because of lack of support and can cause strain to the foot muscles and connecting ligaments.
For those experiencing overpronation, or suffering from inward turned ankles, you can also experience strain to other parts of your body, such as your knees and hips. This is often a result of an off-balance or uneven distribution of weight.
Treating Flat Feet
If your flat feet are causing no pain, there’s usually no need for treatment. Those with achy feet or ankles, however, may need an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to look for tissue damage and properly prescribe a solution.
Oftentimes, physical therapy is a great way to relieve flat feet pain. A podiatrist can perform or teach you special stretching exercises, particularly for those who overuse their muscles regularly, like runners, or individuals with stiffness from arthritis.
Commonly, wearing shoes with proper arch support does the trick, or help from custom-designed orthotics. These help your feet to disperse weight evenly and can take the pressure and strain off of your tendons.
Weight loss helps too, as it’s simply less pounds your feet need to support.
Corrective surgery is rare, and is usually performed because of a specific problem, such as a torn tendon or rupture. Surgery will not “fix” the condition of flat feet itself.
Get a Professional Opinion
If you believe you have flat feet and are experiencing pain, it might be time to seek help from a podiatrist.
We have a full team of experts and an in-house MRI to determine if you have flat feet. For those suffering, we can get you in fitted orthotics or in physical therapy to get the relief you need.
Visit our contact page to make a quick appointment or give us a call today at 239.936.5400.
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