By Rehan Iqbal
Pes planus, or flat feet, can be painful. With this condition, you have little or no arch to your foot. Is this a serious condition? Can it be solved or cured? In this article, we discuss flat-footedness, provide insight to its causes and good advice to help you treat and cope with flat feet. Read on to learn more.
How Do Flat Feet Happen?
We are all born with flat feet, but arches begin to form when a baby becomes a toddler and starts walking. You’ll usually see a bit of arch begin to develop between the ages of two and three, and by age six, the arches should be fully formed.
Flat-footedness in young children is seldom serious; however, this condition can cause musculoskeletal and general health complications with the passage of time. This is especially true among teens and adults who do not practice healthy lifestyle habits.
Pes Planus May Take Different Forms
The most common form of flat-footedness is called flexible flat foot. When this happens, you will see no arch at all when standing. The sole of the foot will come completely in contact with the floor.
This is the type of flat-footedness that starts in childhood and usually resolves when the tendons tighten appropriately to form an arch. It is typically not painful and does not cause complications.
Sometimes, the tightening of the tendons is incomplete, and flat-feet result. This is more likely in children with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.
Once in a great while, the bones in a small child’s feet may become fused. This can cause pain.
If you have tight Achilles tendons, you may lift your heel prematurely when you walk or run. This can cause the arches to flatten. This type of flat-footedness typically starts in the teen or adult years and can cause quite a bit of pain and complication.
You may also develop fallen arches if your posterior tibial tendon, which connects the inside of the ankle to the calf muscle, becomes injured and/or swollen. Onset of this type of flat-footedness is usually adulthood.
In the case of Achilles or posterior tibial tendon problems, firm support is necessary to help alleviate symptoms and support recovery.
Who Will Have Flat Feet?
You may inherit your flat feet from your parents or ancestors, or your lifestyle may contribute to the development of flat feet. For example, if you are very physically active and/or you do not wear properly fitted footwear that is appropriate to your activities, you are likely to experience fallen arches.
When Should You Be Concerned?
If your flat feet don’t cause you any pain, you needn’t worry. If your feet ache a great deal when you must walk or stand for an extended period of time, you have cause for concern. Likewise, if your feet feel numb or stiff, or if you tend to develop calluses and corns, you have cause for concern.
Also, be aware that, while your flat feet may not hurt, they may cause pain to other parts of your body. If your ankles, legs, knees, hamstrings, buttocks, hip joints and/or lower back hurt, flat feet may be the cause. Left untreated, flat feet can cause problems such as:
What Sort Of Treatment Can You Expect With Flat Feet?
Generally speaking, flat feet can be treated or coped with using non-surgical treatments, but it’s important to understand that you are unlikely to cure or completely resolve flat-footedness. It’s a condition you’ll need to deal with by making lifestyle changes and being alert and aware of your signs and symptoms.
No matter what the reason for your flat feet, light to moderate daily exercise to improve your overall physical condition will help, as will specific exercises and physical therapy designed to help strengthen your ankles and your feet.
Taking a load off your feet will help. You can do this by elevating and resting your feet periodically, and it is also very wise to maintain a healthy weight. Eat a balanced, healthy diet to improve your overall health.
If you have any chronic condition (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) be sure to follow all of your doctors’ advice to keep your condition under control.
Talk with your doctor, physical therapist and/or podiatrist about appropriate over the counter (OTC) arch supports, shoe inserts and orthotics.
Use prescribed orthotics, splints and/or braces as advised by your medical team.
Use OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), along with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE), to manage pain and inflammation.
Always wear correctly fitted, supportive shoes (in good condition) that are appropriate to the task at hand. Avoid wearing flip flops, flat sandals, high heels and other shoes that do not support your feet and/or tend to hold your feet in an unnatural position.
Instilling these healthy habits into your life will go far toward helping you cope with problems associated with flat-footedness. You are sure to find that complications, such as overall bodily aches and pains, improve as well.
When Is Medical Attention Necessary?
If your flat-footedness is a sudden, acute development (i.e. your arches fall suddenly and painfully) you should see your doctor.
If OTC remedies and the lifestyle changes recommended above do not help in a reasonable period of time (a week or so) you should see your doctor.
If you have trouble walking and/or your balance is affected, you should see your doctor.
When you see your doctor, you will want to clarify the cause of your problem and fully explore the possibility of further complications. Find out what signs and symptoms of complication you should note. Fully explore the topic of possible remedies.
Is It Possible To Prevent Having Flat Feet?
If you’ve inherited flat feet or have them due to a health condition, then there’s nothing you can do to prevent them. Developing the healthy lifestyle habits discussed above may help prevent fallen arches, but very often, the development of flat feet is just a normal part of aging. Even so, it’s always a good idea to develop a healthy lifestyle, and your fallen arches will probably be a lot less problematic for you if you are in good physical condition.
For this reason (and many more) take care to keep your blood pressure under control, eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly and take good care of yourself if you are ill or injured. Don’t rush to go back to work or become very active after an illness or after breaking a bone or otherwise injuring yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to fully recover and regain your strength to avoid putting excess stress and strain on your feet.
Your Feet Are The Foundation Of Your Body
There are twenty six bones and more than a hundred tendons, ligaments and muscles in your feet. The arches support the foot structure, and your feet support and align your entire body. Fallen arches cause pain in the feet, and eventually, can cause pain and complications throughout your body.
Keeping your feet healthy can help keep your entire body aligned and healthy, and the converse is also true. Whenever your health is compromised in some way, you may have a tendency to put an uneven or excessive load on your feet. This can cause foot injury (e.g. plantar fasciitis) and complications that can, in turn, cause damage to your ankles, knees, legs, hips and lower back.
If you have flat feet and do nothing to correct them, you may develop a problem called overpronation. In this condition, your ankles will roll in as you walk or run. This causes pain in your feet and ankles, and eventually in your knees, hips and lower back.
Refer to this information and follow the tips presented here to cope with flat feet.