Flat feet is relatively harmless but can cause some issues in other areas of your body, which you should be aware of and prepared for.
The shape of a person’s foot can determine how they walk, as well as whether or not they experience any pain or discomfort when exercising. There are a number of deformities and conditions that can affect the shape of a person’s feet, the primary of which is the flat feet condition. This deformity can either be acquired or congenital, the latter of which means that it occurs at the time of your birth.
What Are Flat Feet?
When you take a look at another person’s feet, it’s likely that there will be an arch between the toes and the back of the foot, which slightly raises off the ground. The flat feet deformity eliminates this arch, which means that the entire foot is flattened whenever you stand up. This is a very common condition that typically doesn’t cause any issues unless you prefer the appearance of arched feet when compared to flat feet. However, there are some small complications that may occur in certain situations.
Unless you’re experiencing some level of pain along with the condition, it’s unlikely that you will need to obtain treatment for the deformity. If you do experience pain with the condition, it may worsen when you exercise and perform different activities. Small amounts of swelling may also occur when you’re suffering from flat feet.
Causes and Risk Factors of Flat Feet
The flat feet condition is very common among babies and young toddlers, merely because the arch has yet to have time to properly develop. For the majority of people, the arch of the foot will develop during childhood. However, some of these people will never develop arches within their feet, which is normal and doesn’t automatically indicate a problem. It’s also possible for this condition to develop because of an injury or health complication that causes the arch to fall. These injuries and complications include:
- Bones that are dislocated or broken
- Nerve issues
- Health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Tendons that have been stretched or torn
You can also be at risk for flat feet if you’re pregnant, obese, or suffer from diabetes.
Possible Complications of Flat Feet
In most cases, the presence of flat feet doesn’t directly cause any complications. While you may experience pain from time to time, there are some easy ways to remedy this pain. However, flat feet can worsen problems and injuries that you experience in your lower legs, feet, or ankles. If you suffer from arthritis in your feet or ankles, the pain from this condition will likely become worse because of your flat feet. The same is true for such conditions as shin splints, bunions, and Achilles tendonitis.
Managing the Pain Caused by Flat Feet
There are a wide variety of exercises that can be used to manage the pain that can sometimes occur with flat feet, many of which are offered with physical therapy. The primary exercise used to manage this pain is heel cord stretching, which can relieve your pain by stretching your posterior calf muscles and Achilles tendon. This exercise involves bending your knee until you feel the back of your leg stretch. It’s easy to perform and should be done in repetitions of 8-10 around twice per day until you experience relief from your pain. Pain medications and orthotic devices can also provide relief.
Additional Treatment Options to Consider
Most treatments for flat feet are considered to be home remedies. You can rest your foot or place ice on it whenever it becomes painful. You can also work to reduce the risk factors that apply to you, which can include everything from obesity to high blood pressure. You should avoid playing sports with high amounts of impact as well, which extends to soccer, basketball, and hockey. If the foot damage has become too severe, surgery may be required to correct the fallen arch. Some of the surgical procedures that can be used to treat flat feet include arthrodesis, excision, osteotomy, and tendon transfer. The surgery that’s recommended to you depends primarily on what caused the flat feet deformity in the first place.