Flat FeetHaving “flat feet” simply means your foot does not have an arch when you are standing. Doctors also refer to this condition as pronated feet and it is very common. Severe cases of flat feet can lead to long-term problems, such as shin splints, knee problems, back pain, foot pain and a long list of other issues. In fact, several studies have suggested a large percentage of hip replacement patients also have flat feet. There are several causes of pronated or flat feet that typically fall into two categories.
Congenital Flat Feet
Congenital flat feet means an individual was born with the condition or has a predisposition to the condition. The most common type in this category is flexible flat feet, which means the foot has an arch until pressure is applied causing the arch to flatten. There are other types of flat feet within the congenital category, which are identified by the foot having no arch regardless of pressure. These can be much more problematic than flexible flat feet although they are much less common.
Acquired Flat Feet
This condition develops over a long period as opposed to being present at birth. It can be caused by the type of shoes worn, sleeping position or other factors such as tendon and ligament problems in the foot. Sometimes a very tight Achilles tendon may be the cause, by forcing the foot to point in a downward direction.
Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction is the most common type of acquired flat feet. This condition is due to continued trauma and pressure on the main tendon in the arch for extended periods. As the body ages and continued stress is applied to the tendon and the foot, the tendon ultimately gives out, and the arch lowers. Individuals with this condition will experience significant pain around the foot and ankle area. Being overweight and constantly walking on hard cement-like surfaces is also a large contributor.
There are many different treatments available for flat feet. The first step in treatment is consulting your podiatrist to determine your exact type of flat feet. It is very rare that surgery is required and most of the time conditions can be improved by utilizing insoles, various orthotics devices or casting.
It is important to note, the most crucial part of treatment is an accurate determination of what type of flat feet you are dealing with. Attempting to treat flat feet yourself with over the counter orthotics, may make the problem worse and even more painful.
However, an appointment with your podiatrist will allow for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment. With all of the non-evasive treatments available, it is very likely you will be able to relieve your foot pain with a single office visit.