When it comes to feet, we hear about all sorts of less than flattering ailments: calluses, blisters, bunions. For the most part, people tend to have an idea about what all of these issues entail. But what do doctors mean when they refer to flat feet?
What Are Flat Feet?
Feet usually have an arch that’s plainly visible when a person stands barefoot. This curvature is caused by the normal, slight pull of the tendons in a person’s feet. However, some people’s foot tendons don’t pull at all. As a result, when that person stands on the floor, the entire bottoms of their feet touch the ground, without any visible arch. It’s normal in babies, but by the time a child is a toddler, an arch usually starts to form.
For the most part, flat feet don’t pose health risks. If they are painless, a person can continue living their life without any issues. However, the condition can sometimes cause problems with the ankles or knees, since flat feet can affect the alignment of a person’s legs.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
For those who do develop symptoms, they tend to experience the following:
- Feet get tired easily
- Feet stiffness
- Difficulty standing on the toes
- Bottom of feet can become swollen when standing for long periods of time
- Pain in feet during physical activity
- Continuous pain in feet and ankles
Another sign that a person’s flat feet may be causing issues is if the bottom of one shoe regularly wears out at a faster rate than the other shoe, this would be an indication of a significant uneven distribution of body weight.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to ignore symptoms, especially since flat feet could be an indication of an underlying problem, such as a torn ligament.
Causes and Risk Factors of Flat Feet
Flat feet are typically just a variation of the shape of a foot. That being said, there are several factors that could contribute to a person developing the condition:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve damage
- Previous bone fractures
- Family history of flat feet
- Cerebral Palsy
Women who are pregnant are also more likely to suddenly develop flat feet, due to increased hormones relaxing ligaments.
Diagnosis of Flat Feet
While a doctor can simply look at a person’s feet to verify they have flat feet, the medical provider will likely have the person stand on their toes. If the symptoms are pronounced, the doctor may order x-rays or MRI to determine whether there are any underlying conditions.
Treatment of Flat Feet
Depending on the symptoms, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication or using orthotics in your shoes. If the condition is caused by obesity, your medical provider may also recommend weight management and exercise to relieve some of the stress on your feet.
In rare cases, surgery may be necessary. Keep in mind that this is a possibility if the condition is significantly interfering with the patient’s health and activities of daily living.
Prevention of Flat Feet
While there’s no way to prevent flat feet, there is a way to ease pain after physical activity by doing feet exercises.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you have flat feet and they’re causing you pain, let us help. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.