What causes flat Feet and how can I treat it?
| Custom Feet
Understanding Flat Feet: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
As the name suggests, flatfeet or flatfoot is a foot deformity in which the entire sole of your foot touches the ground. Also known as fallen arches, flatfeet occur with varying degrees of physical impact. The condition may affect one or both feet and change your body’s alignment when standing, walking, or running.
While having flatfeet might be in your genes, many people develop this condition as they age. It is a widespread condition and is usually painless. However, if you experience any discomfort or it affects your daily activities, trying lifestyle modifications and consulting a specialist can prove helpful.
Most people do not experience any symptoms; however, pain is the most common complaint for those who do. It occurs due to the strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot and the ankle joint, especially when the ankle turns inward. In addition to pain, you may also experience swelling and stiffness, which worsens with activities and limits your daily life.
Furthermore, flatfeet lead to an uneven distribution of body weight, resulting in difficulty walking and running. The imbalance may change your gait (how you walk), leading to stress on your knee or hip joint and causing pain and discomfort. Similarly, you may also experience cramps and fatigue in the leg, lower leg, and feet muscles.
Flatfeet are not unusual in infants and children. The arches usually form during early childhood, typically by age 6, and most people have foot arches when they become teenagers and adults. However, nearly two out of ten adults have some degree of flat feet due to genetic or acquired reasons.
Some of the causes of flatfeet include:
- Genetics, as parents pass on the genes for flatfeet in some people
- Weak arches, in which the person has flexible flat feet, meaning they have visible arches when sitting, but as soon as the weight is put on the feet, the arches flatten. It is the most common cause, and the condition worsens with age.
- Foot or ankle injury
- Abnormal joint formation, tight Achilles tendon, and other tendon injuries
- Continued stresses on the foot and its arch due to obesity or pregnancy
- Normal ageing, as the collapse of the arch can also occur over years of wear and tear (degeneration)
Children, as well as adults without any symptoms, usually do not need treatment. However, when flatfeet begin interfering with daily activities, certain lifestyle modifications, such as physical therapy to improve mobility and wearing orthotics, can prove very helpful.
Orthotics is a broad term for supportive footwear and includes customized or sports shoes that support the arch, braces for the foot, socks and, most importantly, shoe inserts or insoles. While you can get insoles online or over the counter, you can also get a doctor’s prescription for customized insoles.
Shoe insoles support the arch and help with equal distribution of body weight. They help you manage your symptoms effectively, and most of the time, that’s all you need. However, insoles are not a cure for flat feet and sometimes, you need surgery to get rid of this condition.