Having a flat feet or ‘fallen arches’, means that the feet has a low or no arch and presses almost completely flat against the ground.
This condition is usually painless and will not give any problems. However, some people may experience pain in the feet especially when connecting ligaments and muscles are strained. Leg joints may also be affected, resulting in pain.
The main purpose of the arches is to distribute our body weight across our feet and legs evenly. The structures of our arches determine how we walk (The rigid they are, the smoother our movement).
What are the signs and symptoms of flat feet?
A symptom (Patient can feel) may be pain in the ankle which will lead to swelling (sign). The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Pain in the ankle (inner side), there may be swelling also
- Pain in the foot generally
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Pain at the calf muscles
- Pain at the knee
- Pain at the hip and back
- Experience stiffness in one or both feet
What are the causes of flat feet?
- Family history: Flat feet can be hereditary
- Weak arch: Arch of the foot may be visible when no weight is place upon it for example when sitting down. However, as soon as the individual stands up, the arch is no more visible.
- Health condition: Example such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity: When you are overweight, therefore more pressure will be placed to the feet. A person who is obese/overweight and has a normal arch, may acquire the flat feet after a period of time due to the constant pressure added.
- Age and wear and tear: After years of using feet to walk, run and jump, it will then undergo wear and tear whereby eventually acquiring the flat feet. The posterior tibial tendon, which is the main support structure of the arch of our feet, can become inflamed (tendinitis) due to overuse, worst case torn. Once the tendon is damaged, the arch shape of the foot may flatten.
What are the risk factors of flat feet?
The following risk factors are linked to a higher probability of having flat feet:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Foot or ankle injury
- Posterior tibial tendon tear or dysfunction.
What are the treatment options for flat feet?
- Wear supportive well-fitted shoes/Extra wide-fitting shoes
- Fitted insoles or orthotics (custom-designed arch supports). Note that the benefits of an orthotic only exist while it is being worn
- Bodyweight management is very important for those who are obese or overweight. Pain at the feet will only subside when the weight is lost.