Think about everything you put your feet through daily. Your feet support the weight of your entire body; they also allow you to stand, walk, run, and dance. Your feet are the foundation for your entire body. Any problem with your feet can adversely impact your overall health.
Having flat feet, for instance, can wreak havoc on many different parts of your body, including your ankles, knees, hips, and back. “Flat foot” is a common term for a fallen arch. It means that your foot doesn’t have the normal curving arch on the inner side of the sole, just before the heel. You’ll know if you have flat feet, also known as pes planus, if the entire sole of your foot touches the floor when you are standing.
Flat Feet Causes and Symptoms
Flat feet are a common condition, affecting more than three million people in the United States. If you have flat feet, you may be wondering how they got that way. Some people have a genetic predisposition to flat feet. Others develop flat feet over time because of an injury or the normal stresses of aging. Sometimes, children will have flat feet because the arches of their feet failed to develop properly.
Many risk factors can increase your risk of developing flat feet, such as:
- Foot or ankle injuries
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The most common symptom of flat feet is foot pain. Most people with flat foot pain will feel the pain in the arch or heel area of the foot. It can worsen with activity.
Health Issues Linked to Flat Feet
Having flat feet does not automatically mean you will experience other health problems. In fact, for some people, being flat-footed is a completely painless condition that requires no treatment.
That being said, having flat feet can increase your chances of suffering from other health problems. For instance, because flat feet can change the overall alignment of the legs, people with flat feet may develop chronic and painful ankle, knee, hip, and back issues.
Here are some common health issues that may be attributed to flatfeet.
Leg and Back Pain
The feet are designed to ensure that the lower body is in proper alignment when standing or walking. Because of a lack of adequate arch support in people with flat feet, the lower legs tend to rotate inward, which can lead to persistent leg, hip, and back pain.
Chronic Muscle Strain
Flat feet can also compromise the body’s overall stability. As other muscles struggle to compensate for the lack of stability, the chances of chronic muscle strain increase dramatically.
Being flat-footed can also cause musculoskeletal pain and other related problems. When you have fallen arches, your feet are not providing the support your body needs, which can result in poor posture and an unnatural gait. This can, in turn, increase the risk of joint problems in the feet, ankles, knees, or hips.
Treatment Options for Flat Feet
There is no cure for flat feet, but some treatment methods can relieve flat feet pain. If you are experiencing pain as a result of flat feet, a podiatrist may recommend trying stretching exercises, wearing supportive shoes, using arch supports such as orthotics, or undergoing physical therapy. In severe cases, foot surgery may be necessary to correct the arch or address other problems that may be associated with flat feet, such as a torn or ruptured tendon.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.