Flat feet, otherwise known as fallen arches, are where someone has a very low arch or no arch on their foot, meaning that one or both of their feet may be flat on the ground.
The foot arches provide a spring to the step and help proportion body weight evenly across the feet and legs. The structure of the foot arches controls how a person walks. When people have flat feet, their feet may roll to the side when they are walking.
Many people with flat feet have no symptoms, but others will experience a variety of symptoms that generally depend on the severity of the condition.
One of the most common symptoms of flat feet is foot pain. This can happen as a result of strained muscles and connecting ligaments. Stresses on the knees and hips may also result in pain in these joints, likely if the ankles turn inwards when walking.
Although the feet, hips and knees are the most common areas of pain from flat feet, other areas affected could be the calf, lower back and lower leg.
Due to uneven distribution of bodyweight, shoes may wear down unevenly and more quickly than usual, especially on one side, and this can also lead to further injuries and heightened pain.
Common causes of flat feet can be:
Genetical factors, as they can be passed down from parents to children
Foot or ankle injuries
Damage to the posterior tibial tendon
Nervous system or muscle diseases
If flat feet are prominent at a young age, doctors will often diagnose this during childhood. However, people are more likely to develop flat feet if they are obese or pregnant. Also, flat feet can develop with age as the daily use of the feet can cause the posterior tibial tendon to weaken. The tendon can become inflamed or tear after overuse.
People with flat feet do not necessarily need to see a footcare professional unless they are experiencing symptoms such as foot, ankle or leg pain/stiffness, or if the flat feet have developed recently.
There are a few treatment options for flat fleet, which a professional such as a podiatrist, will be able to advise.
Often, specific exercises will be given to the patient to manage the symptoms and prevent the flat feet from developing.
Also, supportive and well-fitted shoes can help, and an extra-wide fit can provide pain relief. Fitted insoles and orthotics can relieve the pressure on the arch and reduce the pain if the feet roll too far inward. A podiatrist will be able to measure your feet professionally and provide you with the best insole.
Sometimes wearing an ankle brace can also be beneficial, and in rare cases, surgery can be suggested.
If you are suffering from flat feet / fallen arches, then please make an appointment with our biomechanical specialist podiatrist, Rebecca Love, who will assess you and provide you with a treatment plan.
Contact us today to make an appointment.