Quite common in this day and age is the unfortunate condition of flat foot disorder, which affect millions of people across the globe at any one time. In this article we discuss what it is exactly, what causes it, and how it can be treated.
What Are Flat Feet?
If you look at normal feet you’ll see in the middle there is usually an arch, or an area of the foot which doesn’t make contact with the floor. Some people have higher arches than others which is fine, but for those who have no arch at all and the full base of the foot makes contact with the floor, that is known as a flat foot, and will cause all sorts of pain in numerous areas of the lower body and can even bring your joints out of alignment. The main areas of pain occur in feet, ankles, and lower leg muscles, especially in the region of your arch and heel. It can also lead to a weakened posture and discomfort through your hips and lower back. As you can see in the picture, the top diagram has a curved area in the midfoot which is known as the arch.This is normal and shouldn’t cause any time of pain or discomfort. The bottom image is displaying full contact between the floor and foot, therefore adding pressure and stress on the muscles and ligaments where there shouldn’t be. This is a fallen arch which is considered to be a flat foot, and will be very painful when standing or walking.
What Causes Flat Feet?
Causes are quite wide and varied, and unknowing to most, the painful condition can often be avoided. Firstly you’ll need to know that tendons and ligaments in your foot and lower leg help form the arch and stabilize it. Generally, when those tendons and ligaments weaken, your arch collapses thus causing the foot abnormality.
In some cases the condition occurs early in childhood due to the arch not forming fully for some reason. It is also hereditary and can often be present from birth. Flat feet in children is quite common; as children grow older it’s not always easy to identify at first because most kids appear to be flat footed due to baby fat and gradual formation. It’s usually when flat feet problems arise in early adulthood that the condition is picked up through some kind of bottom of foot pain complaints or other reported problems from any joints in the lower body.
A collapsed arch which occurs during adulthood often arises due to excessive stress on the foot e.g standing all day at work or walking in high heels for longer periods of time, wearing uncomfortable shoes without proper support, failing to treat foot injuries, or not allowing enough time to heal ankle sprains and broken bones in feet.
Flat Feet Treatment
There are a few non-surgical steps you can try to reduce flat feet pain, however these will not change the shape of the foot.
- The most important key to reducing pain is wearing the correct shoes. The best shoes for flat feet are supportive ones that fit well with plenty of padding and good arch support.
- Although this isn’t a long term solution, and depending on the severity, taking painkillers if you have any discomfort can be comforting but remember to always notify your GP for any changes you make to medication.
- Obesity is a common cause of pain in the foot or fallen arch. Losing weight if you’re overweight is an effective way of reducing flat foot pain and has many other benefits too.
- A cheap and rather effective pain relief method is to use custom orthotic inserts inside your shoes. These orthotics do well to support your feet and stop them rolling inwards.
If you have tried the above and still have no joy, perhaps discuss with your GP or Podiatrist on progressing on to surgical treatment.