What are flat feet?
A foot is considered to be flat when the arch has collapsed either partially or totally, and the entire bottom of the foot touches the ground when standing. This is a very common condition that affects both adults and children. Once you develop flat feet, they will not resolve themselves on their own.
What causes flat feet?
Flat feet occur because the tissues that hold the tendons together in the feet are loose. Before infants or toddlers start to walk the arch has not developed, so flat feet are normal. Most people have flexible feet and an arch begins to appear when children begin to stand on their toes. The arch will continue to develop throughout childhood, and by the time adulthood is reached normal arches have developed. Most people do have normal arches by the time they’re adults, however the arch may never even form in some people.
Aging, illness or injuries may also harm the tendons, and cause flat feet to develop in someone who has already formed the correct arch. A rare, painful deformity called tarsal coalition may also cause flat feet in children. This is where two or more bones in the foot fuse or grow together.
Are flat feet painful?
A lot of people who do have flat feet experience little to no pain or other problems. However, this is not the case with painful, progressive flatfoot, also known as tibialis posterior tendonitis, or adult-acquired flatfoot. This condition occurs when the tendon becomes stretched, inflamed or torn. If ignored, this deformity could lead to chronic pain, or a severe disability. If you have flat feet or your tendon is abnormally attached to the bones in the midfoot you are predisposed to adult-acquired flatfoot. If you have flat feet and are experiencing ankle, foot or lower leg pain set up an appointment with your podiatrist for an evaluation.
How are flat feet treated?
Flat feet don’t need to be treated if they aren’t causing pain or walking problems, especially in children. A child’s feet will develop and grow the same whether inserts or special shoes are used. They can walk barefoot, jump, run or participate in any other activity without worsening their flat feet.
If you are experiencing pain due to flat feet, an arch support or orthotic worn in your shoe may help. These can be bought at a store, or can be custom made in our office. Anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, icing, bracing and supportive taping may also mitigate the pain.
Rigid, painful feet will need to be examined by your podiatrist. The treatment will depend on the cause of flat feet. If tarsal coalition is the cause, rest and a cast will most likely be prescribed. Surgery will be required if the pain isn’t alleviated. In other severe cases, surgery will be required to repair or clean the tendon, or to fuse joints in the foot into the correct position.
If you or a loved one is experiencing pain from flat feet, call NorthPointe Foot & Ankle Care at (248) 545-0100, or request an appointment on our website. If you live in the Berkley, Southfield, Royal Oak, Oak Park or Ferndale areas we can help!