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Are You Flat Footed?

Flat Feet Defined

This is another regular problem that has been treated at our clinic over the years. What’s interesting is that there’s a lot of ignorance about the condition since some people come and say they’re flat footed and they’re not. Conversely shock is expressed by others who are and weren’t aware.

Flat feet are also known as pes planus, or fallen arches. It is characterised by a flattening of the medial longitudinal arch (inside foot arch), which causes the foot to roll in excessively, in order to maintain stability. This excessive internal rotation occurs at a joint in the ankle and is known as over pronation.

There are two types of flat feet. Flexible flat foot, which means that the foot has some arch, even if it only appears when the person flexes the feet, or stands on the toes. This is a normal condition that is generally painless and does not require treatment. Stiff, inflexible, or painful flat foot is an abnormal condition and may indicate a bone abnormality in the foot, or an injury.

Symptoms

• Aching feet when standing, pains, particularly in the heel or arch area

• Visible deformity of the foot on standing with the medial border of the foot being tipped towards the floor

• Clients note that they walk on the inside of their foot and quickly wear down the soles of their shoes

• Advanced cases may experience pain in the ankle due to increased pressure.

Signs

• Look at shoes for evidence of excessive wear/squashing of mid sole along the inside border of the heel and mid foot.
• Foot imprinting would determine whether the client is indeed flat footed.
• A doctor/chiropodist/podiatrist/foot health practitioner may look at the foot from behind to seek evidence of your heels rolling out which will signify over pronation.

• Swelling along the ankle.

Further Complications

Being flat footed makes you susceptible to other problems, these include:

  • Corns and Calluses
  • Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Knee pain
  • Inability to walk, take part in high impact activities or run properly
  • Achilles Tendonitis (ankle pain)
  • Morton’s Neuroma (swollen trapped nerve)
  • Hallux Abducto Valgus (bunions)
  • Metatarsalgia (ball of the foot pain)
  • Shin pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Aching legs

Risk Factors and Causes

A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers, because the foot’s arch hasn’t yet developed. Some peoples’ arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems.

Arches

can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the posterior tibial tendon, which runs along the inside of your ankle, from above your ankle to your arch.

Most cases of flat feet are simply the result of normal development. When that is not the case, the condition can be caused by a number of factors, these include:

  • Aging
  • Traumatic injury to your foot or ankle
  • Overweight
  • Physical abnormality
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosis

It  is generally diagnosed during physical examination. During the exam, the client may be asked to step on an imprint mat. The imprints would show whether or not a flat foot actually exists. Also, when looking at the feet from behind, the ankle and heel may appear to lean inward (pronation). The client may be asked to walk so it can be see how much the arch flattens during walking.

The doctor/chiropodist/podiatrist/foot health practitioner may also examine the patient’s shoes for signs of uneven wear, ask questions about a family history of flat feet, and inquire about known neurological or muscular diseases.

Flat Feet Treatment

In cases where there is no pain, no treatment for flat feet is required. However, if there is pain, or if the condition is caused by something other than normal development, there are treatment options.

  • Arch Supports (orthotics). Custom designed arch supports, which are molded to the contours of your feet. Shoe inserts won’t cure flat feet, but they often reduce the symptoms associated with the disorder.
  • Stretching exercises. Some people with flat feet also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Exercises to stretch this tendon could help.

Flat Feet Prevention

Flat feet in children are often an inherited family condtion, but it may be possible to prevent it in some cases. Recent research has shown that there are several social or cultural factors that can cause flat feet. These factors include the following:

Among adults, flat feet due to injury, disease, or normal aging are not preventable. However, when flat feet are related to lifestyle factors, such as physical activities, shoe selection, and weight gain, careful attention to these factors may prevent the development of flat feet.

Surgery

In severe cases, surgery is performed to repair the tendon or to fuse some joints in the foot into a corrected position to reduce stress on the tendon.

The prognosis after surgery is generally good. Complications include pain and some loss of ankle motion, especially when trying to turn the foot in or out. This may be improved with physical therapy.

 

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