Flat Feet (Pes Planus)
Flat feet are a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. A common and usually painless condition, flat feet can occur when the arches don’t develop during childhood. In other cases, flat feet develop after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Flat feet may contribute to problems in your ankles and knees because the condition can alter the alignment of your legs. If you aren’t having pain, no treatment is usually necessary.
Causes of Flat Feet
The cause and treatment of flat feet differ based on the person’s age. Flat feet in children will often resolve without intervention, while “fallen arches” in adults tend to be permanent and non-reversible.
Flexible Flatfoot is caused by lax ligaments in the foot, resulting in a flattened arch. The condition is heredity. Rigid flatfoot is caused by abnormal foot development, either due to genetics or other medical conditions. Adult onset flatfoot can also be caused by a bone fracture or dislocation, a torn or stretched tendon, or arthritis. Rigid flatfoot can develop among adults 40 years of age and older who are sedentary and overweight.
Other factors that can cause flat feet include:
- Arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Problems with the posterior tibial tendon
- Weak arches
- Structural changes due to aging
- Health conditions like diabetes
Pregnancy and obesity can also lead to flat feet, as well as some diseases of the muscles or nervous system.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
Most people have no signs or symptoms associated with flat feet. But some people with flatfeet experience foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. Pain may worsen with activity. Swelling along the inside of the ankle can also occur. Symptoms in adults may include tired or achy feet.
Flat feet can also contribute to other foot conditions including:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Posterior tibial tendonitis
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Pain in the ball of your foot
Since your feet help distribute your body weight across your legs and feet, flat feet can also cause pain and discomfort in other areas of your body (especially your ankles, calves, lower legs, knees, hips, and back). Pain and discomfort related to flat feet may reduce your activity level, which can lead to other common health issues like high blood pressure and obesity.
How are flat feet diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor at Augusta Foot & Ankle, PC can usually diagnose fallen arches by examining your feet and observing you as you stand and walk. The doctor will inspect the feet from the front and back. You may be asked to stand on the tips of your toes to allow the doctor to examine the shape and function of each foot. The doctor will also look at your medical history. In some cases, they may order an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan. Ultrasound may be used to look for tendon or soft tissue damage.
Flat feet in children and adults can usually be treated with custom orthotic insoles and rarely require surgery. Our doctors use state-of-the-art 3D optical scanning to produce custom orthotic insoles for both adults and children. A custom orthotic insole is a prescribed medical device that biomechanically corrects and supports the foot or ankle. They are primarily used to solve problems with the way you walk, stand or run. Orthotics can also help with foot pain caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and arthritis.
In addition to custom orthotics, your doctor might recommend physical therapy, medications, and occasionally surgery. If painful symptoms cannot be controlled conservatively and surgery is required, our surgeons offer reconstructive surgical procedures to provide relief.
Call Augusta Foot & Ankle to schedule an appointment today to learn how custom orthotics and other solutions can alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with your flat feet.