Flat feet, also called fallen arches, is a condition where the arch of the foot loses strength, causing the bony framework of the foot to partially or completely collapse. Fallen arches prevent tendons from functioning properly, which strains the joints at both ends of the foot.
COMMON CAUSES OF FLAT FEET INCLUDE:
- Underdevelopment of arches in childhood
- Stretched or torn tendons
- Damage or inflammation to the posterior tibial tendon (PTT)
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve problems
Other factors that can increase your risk of developing flat feet include: injury to the foot or ankle, obesity, diabetes, aging, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF FLAT FEET INCLUDE:
- Feet tire easily
- Painful or achy feet, especially in the areas of the arches and heels
- Pain that intensifies with activity
- Swelling on the inside bottom part of the foot
- Foot movement, such as standing on your toes, is difficult
- Back pain and leg pain
The excess strain from flat feet can cause other foot problems, such as hammertoes, bunions, heel spur, arch strain, corns, neuromas, and over-pronation. Flat feet can also affect other parts of the body, causing fatigue, pain, or stiffness in the ankle, knees, hips, and lower back.
If flat feet are painful, treatment options include:
- Arch supports: such as orthotics may help relieve painful symptoms of flat feet.
- Stretching exercises: some people with flat feet also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Exercises to stretch this tendon may help.
- Proper footwear: structurally supportive shoes might offer more comfort and support
- Physical therapy: flat feet may contribute to overuse injuries. Physical therapy can help strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.
If conservative treatment options fail to improve the symptoms associated with flat feet, your physician may recommend surgery to correct flat feet.