Updated: Oct 9, 2018
Quite simply this is a condition where people have very low arches, or no arches at all in one or both their feet, and they press flat against the ground. The human foot is complex; it has 33 joints that holds 26 bones together. It has over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons.
What are flat feet?
It is the arches of the foot that that helps distribute weight across the feet and legs. It is the arches that determine how a person walks, and these arches need to be strong and flexible to adapt to adapt to stress and a variety of different walking surfaces.
People with flat feet may find that their feet roll to the inner side when they are standing and walking. This condition is known as overpronation, and this may also cause the feet to point outward. In turn flat feet can generate abnormal stresses and adversely affect other parts of the body, such as the knee and hip joints.
Whilst some people with flat feet experience no symptoms at all, many other others may experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that can vary depending on the severity of the underlying condition.
There are a number of symptoms associated with flat feet, and this can be responsible for pain that can affect the following parts of the body:
· The feet including stiffness in one or both feet
· Inside ankle together with possible swelling
· The arch of the foot
· Lower legs
· Lower back
Also, because flat feet cause an uneven distribution of body weight, this can in turn result in shoes wearing down unevenly or more quickly than usual, which can lead to injury.
People with other underlying foot, ankle or lower leg conditions may find that having flat feet may contribute to them or exacerbate the symptoms. Examples of these conditions include:
· arthritis in the ankle or ankles
· arthritis in the foot or feet
· plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligaments in the soles of the feet
· posterior tibial tendonitis
· shin splints
As flat feet can affect the alignment of the body when a person is standing, walking or running the likelihood of pain developing in the hips knees and ankles can increase.
Approaches to the treatment of flat feet vary, depending on the diagnosis of the Doctor and other experts in relation to a patient’s individual symptoms and medical circumstances. They include:
· Exercises, including heel cord stretching and the golf ball roll. These may cause some discomfort for some people and can be time consuming
· The wearing of supportive well-fitting shoes. An extra wide fitting may provide relief
· Fitted insoles and orthotics or custom-designed arch supports
· The insertion of a wedge into their footwear along the inside edge of the orthotic
· Wearing an ankle brace
· In extreme cases surgery may be necessary