Flat Feet

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Flat feet refers to a condition where the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened – this makes the entire soles of your feet touch the floor when you stand up. This is a common and usually painless condition. 

It can occur when the arches do not develop during childhood. In other cases, flatfeet may develop after an injury or due to aging. In children, it usually persists until the age of 6.

Sometimes flat feet can cause problems in your ankles and knees, as the condition can change the alignment of your legs. However, you may not require treatment if you do not feel any pain, since it rarely causes problems and requires serious attention. You also do not need to stop doing your regular activities, including sports.

Causes of Flat Feet

It is normal for infants and toddlers to have flat feet, because their feet arches have not yet developed. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches.

This condition is a normal variation in foot type and people without arches may experience or have no problems at all.

Some children have flexible flat feet – in which the arches are visible when the child sits or stands on tiptoes, but disappear when the child stands. Most children grow up with flexible flatfeet without any problems.

Arches can also become flattened over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that stretches along the inside of your ankle and help support your arches. 

Factors that can increase your risk of flat feet include:

  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Arthritis
  • Overweight
  • Foot or ankle Injury 

When to See a Doctor

In people with flat feet that do not have pain or other symptoms, seeing a doctor may not be necessary. However, anyone with any of the following symptoms should seek medical advice:

  • Feet feels stiff and heavy
  • One or both feet become flattened
  • Newly developed flat feet
  • Pain in the foot, ankle, or lower leg
  • Symptoms do not improve with supportive, well-fitted shoes

Consult an orthopedic specialist if you experience pain and other symptoms due to flat feet.

To check for a flat foot, your doctor will observe both of your feet from the front to back and ask you to stand on your toes (on tiptoe). Your doctor may also look at the wear pattern on your shoes.

If you experience pain in your feet, your doctor may order tests such as:

  • X-ray. This test uses a small amount of radiation to produce an image of the bones and joints in your feet. This can also help detect arthritis.
  • CT scan. This test takes an X-ray of your foot from multiple angles and provides more detail than a standard X-ray.
  • Ultrasound. If your doctor suspects a tendon injury, he or she may perform an ultrasound exam that uses sound waves to produce a more detailed picture of the soft tissues in your body.
  • MRI. This test uses powerful radio waves and magnets. MRI provides excellent detail for hard and soft tissues

Symptoms of Flat Feet

The most common symptom is foot pain – which may be a result of strained muscles and connecting ligaments. Abnormal strains on the knee and hip may also cause pain in these joints. These strains may occur if the ankle turns inward.

Pain most commonly affects the following parts of the body:

  • Inside the ankle, along with possible swelling
  • Calf
  • Knee
  • Pelvis
  • Arch of the foot
  • Lower back
  • Lower leg
  • One or both legs may also feel stiff

Flat feet can also lead to an uneven body weight distribution. This may result in uneven shoe wear or shoes wearing out more quickly than usual – especially on one side, which can lead to further injury.

Treatment for Flat Feet

Treatment may not be necessary if the condition does not cause pain. However, your doctor may suggest some treatment options if the symptoms interfere with your daily activities.

Therapy

If you have painful flat feet, your doctor may suggest:

  • Arch supports (orthotic devices). Over-the-counter arch supports may help relieve pain caused by the condition. Your doctor may suggest specially designed arch supports that are tailored to the contours of your foot. Arch supports will not cure flat feet, but they help reduce symptoms.
  • Stretching exercises. Some people with the condition also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Stretching exercises may help relieve symptoms.
  • Supportive shoes. A pair of structurally supportive shoes may be more comfortable than sandals or shoes with minimal support.
  • Physical therapy. In some runners, flat feet may cause overuse injuries. A physical therapist can analyze a video of how you run to help you improve your form and running technique.

Surgery

Surgery is not only performed to correct flat feet, but also to treat other problems such as torn or ruptured tendons. Be sure to discuss with your doctor first before surgery. 

Treatment Cost for Flat Feet

Treatment for flat feet depends on the diagnosis method used, medications, hospital fees, and your preferred orthopedic specialist.

To calculate the estimated treatment cost at home or abroad, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Flat Feet

Flat feet can be hereditary – which cannot be prevented. However, you can avoid the condition from worsening and causing excessive pain. 

Take precautions such as wearing shoes in proper size and using a foot support to make you more comfortable during your activities.

Home Remedies for Flat Feet

Other than what your doctor suggests, you can also do simple treatments at home to alleviate symptoms. If it causes minor pain, try some of these measures: 

  • Lose weight – this can reduce stress on your feet.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers – this may help relieve symptoms.
  • Use over-the-counter arch supports – this may increase your comfort when walking.
  • Avoid activities that can worsen your condition. Perform low-impact activities, such as walking, cycling, or swimming instead of jumping and running.

Book an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at home and abroad through Smarter Health if you have symptoms. 

Smarter Health‘s online consultation (teleconsultation) service allows you to seek treatment whenever you need it without having to leave your house – this minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

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