Many people have flat feet, meaning their feet lack sufficient arches. If the condition affected only how a person’s foot looked, it wouldn’t be an issue. But having flat feet can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms.
The dedicated team of podiatrists at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers offers expert care for patients with flat feet, as well as many other conditions.
Their top priority is your comfort and getting your feet to the healthiest state possible. After all, you rely on them heavily, whether that’s walking to the kitchen for a snack or running a marathon.
What does it mean to have flat feet?
Babies are born without arches in their feet, but most people’s arches form by age 6. If they don’t ever develop, your footprint will look noticeably fuller and wider than someone with an arch. Theirs will show a distinct semicircular curve on the inner edge of their foot.
A tarsal coalition is the most frequent cause of flat feet. This is when bones in your feet stay fused together rather than splitting apart to form a joint..
Other contributors to flat feet are carrying extra weight, living with diabetes, or having tendonitis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. You’re also at higher risk if you live with a disease of the nervous system, such as cerebral palsy.
A traumatic injury to the foot or ankle can cause your arches to drop, as can experiencing damage to the tibial tendon, which connects your calf muscle to your inner foot muscles. Getting older is also accompanied by tibial tendon weakening, or you may simply have weak arches.
Many people suffer no discomfort or other symptoms with flat feet, but others aren’t so lucky.
An array of symptoms can develop, and they may increase your risk for other problems down the road.
Symptoms associated with flat feet
Flat foot issues include pain and movement problems. Symptoms include:
- Pain in your arch, heel, or inner ankle
- Discomfort in your calf, lower legs, knees, hips, or outer foot
- Inner ankle swelling
- Foot or leg muscle pain
- Leg cramps
- Pain when walking that alters your gait (the way you walk)
- Toe drift, or when your toes and front portion of your foot point outward
In addition to these uncomfortable and problematic symptoms, having flat feet can set you up for a host of other foot and ankle problems, including shin splints, a condition that causes pain in the lower inner leg or the front of the shin bone. This discomfort can worsen after activity.
You’re also more likely to be affected by plantar fasciitis, bone spurs (bony protrusions that grow from bones), bunions, calluses, and corns. Flat feet can also lead to knee, hip, and back pain, ankle arthritis, and hammertoe.
Your podiatrist diagnoses flat feet by visually and manually examining your feet, and observing how you walk, stand, and sit. They may have an X-ray taken of your foot as well.
They also find it helpful to look at the wear patterns on the bottoms of your shoes, since people with flat feet tend to wear out the heels of their shoes more quickly.
Are there effective treatments for flat feet?
Yes, we have treatments that can give you relief for flat foot pain and mobility problems. Depending on your specific symptoms, you podiatrist may recommend:
1. Corrective footwear
Choose shoes that offer more support to lessen your flat feet symptoms. It’s even possible to have shoes custom made.
These devices are inserted into your shoe. They also can be bought over-the-counter or customized to your feet.
3. Stretching exercises
Some patients with flat feet also have a shorter-than-normal Achilles tendon. Stretching this tendon specifically can help ease flat feet symptoms.
4. Physical therapy
A physical therapist tailors a treatment program that not only strengthens your muscles and tendons, but builds your flexibility and mobility.
5. A surgical solution
In rare instances, you may need flat foot reconstructive surgery, when your surgeon repairs loose tendons or realigns bones in your foot. Sometimes grafting is done as well.
Even if you have flat feet and it’s not bringing you discomfort, it’s still a good idea to get your feet evaluated by a South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers podiatrist. That way, if any problems arise, they’ll already have a considerable amount of information they can use to design your treatment plan.
Call the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office that’s most convenient to you and schedule an appointment to have your flat feet assessed, or book one online.
With our early-morning and late-evening appointments during the week, plus our availability on Saturdays, you have plenty of opportunities to get relief as soon as possible.