Health

[Top 10] Flat Feet Facts – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Flat Feet

Flat feet or pes planus is a condition that occurs when the tissues holding the foot together becomes loose. Being more common in young children, the tissues generally tighten by the time a child becomes an adult. But these normal arches do not develop in some even as adults. This condition could affect the stability of a person.
It would be best to know all about flat feet, their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment and how to do various exercises so as to improve them and also live with them.

In The Article

1

What is a Flat Feet?

This is a favorite question that helps us to understand what a flat foot is. Most adults have a gap under the arc of the feet when they stand or walk; the inner part of the feet is raised from the ground to form an arc.

This raising of the feet may be totally absent or low in some people; the arc in the center of the feet may roll over inside in such people and their feet may point inwards while they stand or walk. This problem may lead to discomfort or pain in the feet of such people.

People with flat feet have no space between the arches of the feet that make their shoes wear out unevenly on one side and they may wear out more often.  People with fallen arches could have flat feet on one foot or both. It is also found that the shoes of the person wear out unevenly just on one foot mainly on one side; also the shoes of such persons may wear out more quickly.

Flat feet may also show up in various such ways:

  • You could notice flat feet in the various ways; there could be pain or swelling in the inner side of the ankle, or the calf, or knees or in the hip, back and lower leg area. You may feel stiffness in either one foot or both the feet.
  • Those with arch flat feet have tendon and ligaments that are weakened that cause intense pain throughout the lower leg muscles, feet, ankles and feet especially in the region of the heel and arch. This may contribute towards a weakened posture and discomfort in the lower back and hips.

The next fact about flat feet is  regarding the knowledge of who all can be affected by it.

2

Who gets Flat Feet?

It would be appropriate to understand the human foot that is a very complex structure to know who has flat feet. A human foot has 26 bones that are held together by 33 points, over 100 muscles, tendon and ligaments. The structure of all of them determines how a body moves.

It is these arches that give a spring to the body and distributes the body weight across the legs and feet; the arches structure determines how one walks. So the need to be flexible and sturdy to stand various stresses and surfaces.

Those that have flat feet include:

  1. Flat feet run in families or are genetic.
  2. It could be present in those that have weak arches, where the feet are visible when sitting but flatten when one stands up.
  3. Those that have the nervous system or muscle diseases, like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or spine Bifida could have flat feet.
  4. Damage to the tendon may cause the shape of the foot to flatten; it could happen in those whose tendon is inflamed or torn due to overuse.
  5. Flat feet in some may be due to foot or ankle injury.
  6. Arthritis or Rheumatoid arthritis could also cause this disorder.
  7. It could be caused due to damage, dysfunction or rupture of the posterior tibial tendon. This could happen at any age.
  8. Women that have obesity or diabetes during pregnancy are even exposed to this kind of feet deformation.
  9. It could even be due to a developmental problem occurring during childhood, aging or after pregnancy.
  10. Flat feet could also be present in those that have bones of the foot fused together in an unusual way, resulting in stiffness and flatness; this is mostly diagnosed during childhood.

 

3

Problems of Flat Feet

Having known what flat feet is and who are affected by it, it would be good to know issues might arise because of this disorder.

Problems that are often associated with flat feet are:

  1. Hammertoes
  2. Bunions
  3. Stress Fractures
  4. Shin Splints
  5. Arthritis of Foot Joints
  6. Tendonitis
  7. Plantar Fasciitis

4

Symptoms of Flat Feet

These symptoms if experienced should soon seek medical help:

  1. Some may not have any symptom associated with flat feet, while others may experience pain and swelling in the feet. This pain is mostly experienced in the heel and arch area and may worsen with activity.
  2. There are some who may also experience swelling along the inside of the ankle. Pain may also be experienced in the knee, hip and back area. In addition, there could also be weakness, numbness and a feeling of stiff feet.
  3. In addition, since the feet point inwards the person with flat feet may also have injuries. His/her shoes could also wear out much sooner than expected
  4. One more symptom of this disease is that the feet tire easily. The arches and heel may experience pain or beach. There could also be back or leg ache.
  5. An individual who is affected by this disorder could experience difficulty to stand on his/her toe.

 

5

Causes of Flat Feet

There is not one, but many causes for flat feet; the cause may also vary from person to person. The most common causes are as follows:

  1. Flat feet could be a birth defect or present from birth.
  2. It could arise out of tendons that are stretched or torn.
  3. Another cause of flat feet could be broken or dislocated bones.
  4. It could arise out of inflammation or damage to the posterior tibial tendon; the tendon that connects one’s lower leg along the ankle to the middle of the arch.
  5. There may also be other health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and nerve problems.
  6. Flat feet could also arise due to obesity, diabetes, aging, and pregnancy.

 

6

Flat Feet in Children

Almost all babies are born with flat feet; studies show that more than 80-90% of the babies born in North America have a flat foot. It is, however, significant to find that most of the babies have what is known as a flexible flat foot. Children with such a foot has an  arch flat shape when they tiptoe or are sitting that  disappears when he/she is standing. It always affects both the right and left foot.

There is no need for parents to worry about the flexible flat feet of their children; it is most common in young children and usually, causes no pain or discomfort and does not interfere with the sports and other activities of the child. Usually, a child will face no problem as they age.

It would be interesting to note that most children are born with a little arch in the feet and the soft tissues along the bottom of the feet tighten and shape the arches of the feet. This happens when the child is 5 years or older.  If flexible flat foot continues into adolescence and the child experiences pain a doctor is to be consulted.

Flat Feet Diagnosis:

Next, it would be interesting to note how flat feet are diagnosed. A professional medical expert will first ask you to stand on one’s toes. A low arch  accompanied by arch pain may indicate a more progressive health conditions such as flat feet. This diagnosis can be made on one or both foot. And if it is diagnosed as flexible, then no more tests will be done.

One accurate diagnosis is made by a skilled clinician both by observation and by hands; while walking it will be observed that the affected feet appear more deformed or pointed than the unaffected foot. On testing the muscles it would be possible to check the strength of the deficit.

Another test is a single foot rise. The patient is asked to stand and put one’s whole body weight on the symptomatic foot, keeping the unaffected foot raised off the ground. Then he/she is instructed to rise up on one’s toe; if the feet are affected then the person will be unable to rise on one’s toe and keep one’s heel off the floor.

In the case of flat feet accompanied by severe pain, a detailed examination is done to check the bones of the feet; an MRI scan can examine the tendons of both foot.

Flat Feet Treatment:

There is no need to worry about a child having flat feet unless he/she experiences pain or severe walking trouble. Usually, a child’s feet will grow and develop on its own; only in extreme cases, there is a need for specially made shoes for flat feet, shoe inserts, heel cups, and wedges. You will find that a child can easily walk, run and jump and even walk barefoot without any problem.

Treatment is required only when a child does not outgrow it and it continues into adolescence and adulthood. Also, treatment is required only when there is a pain.

Some of the treatments that help in case of flat feet are:

  1. A person with a flat foot may be recommended an arc support to put into the shoes. This may be custom-made or even available in a shoe store.
  2. Where flat feet and pain associated with it is due to the tarsal coalition, it is treated with simple rest and also by putting a cast. Surgery might be recommended only if the pain does not improve.
  3. Surgery is often recommended for people with chronic pain in order to aid proper foot function.
  4. Pain relievers, orthotics and sometimes surgery are recommended for flat feet in older adults.
  5. Surgery may also be required in severe cases to clean or repair tendons and fuse joints in the foot in correct position.

7

Flat Feet Diagnosis

Next, it would be interesting to note how flat feet is diagnosed. A health care professional will first ask you to stand on one’s toes. Those having flat feet would have the instep of the foot coming in contact with the ground while standing. This diagnosis can be made on one foot or both feet. If the arch  flat forms the foot/feet is said to be flexible and no more tests will be done.

After an accurate diagnosis by a skilled clinician both by observation and also by hands; while walking it will be observed that the affected foot appears to be more deformed or pointed than the unaffected foot. On testing the muscles it would be possible to check the strength of the deficit.

Another test is a single foot rise. The patient is asked to stand and put one’s whole body weight on the symptomatic foot, keeping the unaffected foot raised off the ground. Then he/she is instructed to rise up on one’s toe; if the feet are affected then the person will be asked to stop from doing this test.

8

Flat Feet Treatment

There is no need to worry about flat feet in a child unless he/she has pain or walking problems. Usually, a child’s feet will grow and develop on its own; only in extreme cases, there is a need for special shoes, shoe inserts, heel cups, and wedges. You will find that a child can easily walk, run and jump and even walk barefoot without any problem.

Treatment is required only when a child does not outgrow it and it continues into adolescence and adulthood. Also, treatment is required only when there is a pain.

Some of the treatments that help in case of flat feet are:

  1. A person with a flat feet may be recommended an arc support to put into the shoes.
  2. This may be custom-made or even available in a show store.Where the flat feet and pain associated with it is due to the tarsal coalition, it is treated with rest and also by putting a cast.
  3. Surgery may be recommended if need be if the pain does not improve.
  4. Surgery often recommended for people with a chronic pain and foot function as they need it.
  5. Pain relievers, orthotics and sometimes surgery are recommended for Flat feet in older adults.
  6. Surgery may also be required in severe cases to clean or repair tendons and fuse joints in the foot into a corrected position.

9

Flat Feet Exercises

Besides other treatment, painful and aching flat feet can be managed by exercises.

Some of the exercises are:

  1. Short foot
  2. Calf stretch
  3. Heel raises
  4. Toe yoga.
  1. Short Foot: This exercise targets on the smaller muscles that support the arch under the foot; it strengthens the arches. Done with the goal of shortening the distance between the ball and heel of the foot, slide the forefoot along the ground towards the heel.
    Done correctly the ball of the foot and heels should remain on the ground while the arch lifts. This flexed position should be done for 5 to 10 seconds.
  2. Calf Stretch: This exercise exercises the calf muscles that lie along the back of the lower leg and attach onto the heels. Providing good ankle flexibility it prevents the collapse of the arch and controls foot pronation.
    Put one leg forward and gently lean forward while bending the knee in front keeping knee of the back leg straight. Do it till you feel a stretch in the back of the lower leg.

    Follow These General Guidelines While Doing The Calf Stretching:

    Ensure that the feet stay pointed straight ahead.
    Ensure that the heels are in neutral position and the weight is distributed towards the outside edges of the feet.
    Imagine you are pressing your heels towards the floor.
    Ensure that you hold the position for a count of 30 to 60 seconds.

  3. Heel Raises: This exercise for flat feet strengthens several lower leg muscles that support the flat arch. This can be done with many variations.
    Stand on both legs with hands placed on the wall for support. Then lift your heels as high off the ground as possible while keeping your big toes pressed into the floor.
  4. Toe Yoga: This exercise is for the toes that are frequently underused and lack strength and control. The muscles that control the toes and similar to those that control and move the fingers of the hand.
    Toe yoga is done by alternating by pressing the big toe down while lifting the other 4 toes up and then lifting the big toe up and pressing the other 4 toes down. Ensure that you hold each lift for 5 seconds.

10

Best running shoes for flat feet

Running with flat feet can be a very difficult, frustrating and downright painful experience; you could end up with injuries if you run without a proper shoe support system. It is generally found that a proper pair of shoes would be able to end most of the related issues that people face because of this kind of feet.

It is found that a foot arch generally helps absorb the shock of the foot striking the ground. So the problem lies with flat-footedness runners whose arch collapse and the foot hit the ground.

It is to be observed that flat footed runner’ feet roll inward when the foot strike and they need a shoe with ample support. If you are quite unsure about the type of shoes to buy, you can best consult a running specialty store in your area, as they’ll be able to analyze your gait and determine whether you overpronate, under pronate or have a neutral stride.

Trying to understand some of the considerations that go into the selection of running shoes for flat feet we can say that they should buy shoes with stability or motion control, as they offer a lot of arch and foot support. It is also to be understood that if you are extremely flat footed you should ensure you add  arch support inserts in your running shoes.

Also, ensure the shoes are not too tight after the inserts and the toes have wiggle space so as not to get blisters.

The Verdict:

We have discussed all flat feet and various aspects regarding it. As a final note, I would like to say that this disorder can be managed easily using various home remedies in the best possible manner that it can be utilized.

Flat feet can be managed by wearing appropriate shoe inserts and footwear. In the case of pain, the best treatment lies in rest, ice and over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen.

Limit the risk factors that makes this deformation worse or painful by controlling diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Avoid stress on feet by avoiding running on roads. Also avoid high impact sports like tennis, soccer, hockey, and basketball.

Last, of all, consult a specialist if the pain is severe and interferes with daily activities.


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