As it is true with many other foot and ankle conditions, flat feet (also known as fallen arches) isn’t something that we really think about until it starts affecting our day-to-day lives.
Thankfully – and since flat feet is considered to be a somewhat normal variation in foot structure – this condition doesn’t always mean it will turn into problems. Nonetheless, if the condition is something you are living with, then it’s important that you understand flat feet and stay on the lookout for any indicators that it may be worsening.
So, let’s get right to the point!
What Exactly are Flat Feet?
Essentially, there are two different types of flat feet – rigid and flexible.
If you have rigid flat feet, then your arches are altogether absent, whether you are in a sitting or standing position. This is usually a result of abnormal formation of the joint and/or bones but can result from neglected flexible flat feet. Often, rigid flat feet are painful and require treatment.
On the other hand, if your feet do have visible arches when they are not bearing weight, like when you are sitting or lying down, then you most likely have flexible flat feet. This is typically caused by wear and tear of the bones and/or tendons that connect your heel to your toes. In these cases, simple orthotics and change in shoes may do the trick.
It is safe to say that the primary indicator that you might have flat feet is, indeed, the absence of arches. However, pain can also be a good sign that something is amiss – especially for those of us who, for some reason, have failed to recognize any lacking arches.
And like most foot and ankle conditions, there are many other factors that contribute to the development of flat feet – some may occur early on in life, while others may start showing signs later in adulthood.
What Causes Flat Feet?
Well, for starters, family genetics is a rather uncontrollable cause of flat feet. In fact, if you compare your parents and grandparents’ feet to yours, you can probably get a general idea of how prone you are to develop this condition – if they have flat feet, then it is likely that you will also develop this condition (if you haven’t already).
Some people have flat feet since childhood – as babies, we all start out with flat feet until our arches fully develop, though sometimes this development never takes place. While others will stumble upon this condition well into adulthood due to repeated impact from walking and running, wearing shoes that lack in appropriate arch support, and improper treatment or healing of injuries.
Other possible causes of flat feet include:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Ruptured tendon
- Tarsal coalition
You should also keep in mind that, as you age, your posterior tibial tendon will also weaken over time, and when the tendon is damaged this will result in a flat foot sooner or later.
Still Not Sure If You Have Flat Feet?
There is a simple at-home testing method you can try!
First, wet the bottoms of your feet, then stand normally on a flat piece of cardboard or paper that will allow you to see your footprints. Finally, step off of the surface and take a look at your footprints. If your arch is normal, you should see an imprint with a curve on the inside of your foot. If you have flat feet, the wet marks will show almost the entire bottom of your feet.
But there are also other good indicators you should keep in mind, including:
- Pain or discomfort in your feet (especially in the arch area), the inside of your ankles, or your calf.
- Foot pain or discomfort after walking or standing for long periods of time.
- Feet that turn outward when you’re standing at rest.
- Pain in feet or legs associated with sports or running.
- A strained feeling in your hips or lower back.
- Shoes that wear unevenly on the bottom (specifically, the wear pattern will be heavy on the inside edges).
If your flat feet test has come up “positive” and/or you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, there is no need to panic – there are plenty of treatment methods that can help you get back on your feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
How Can You Treat Flat Feet?
When you come visit one of our Oklahoma offices, we will perform a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles in order to correctly diagnose your condition. Depending on what we find, we may recommend one or more of the treatment methods below:
- Changes in shoes
- Physical therapy
- Surgery (for severe cases)
An easy heel cord stretch may be included in your treatment plan – simply face a wall and place both of your hands on it. Then slightly bend one of your legs and place it in front of the other. The foot in pain needs to lie flat on the ground behind the bent leg. You can continue to slightly bend the other leg to adjust this stretch to your comfortability level.
Resting your feet is also something that we may recommend. Though this type of treatment is as basic as they come, resting your feet will help alleviate painful flat feet symptoms. Icing the area is another example of “basic-yet-effective” step you can easily take whenever your arches start giving you grief.
Let Us Help You Today!
All in all, flat feet can really become a nuisance in your daily life if they go untreated. But with professional guidance, your fallen arch woes can become less of a burden. So, don’t ignore your painful flat feet in the hopes that the discomfort will eventually go away.
Instead, schedule an appointment with us today! We can give you an accurate diagnosis, and help you find the best solution for relieving your flat feet symptoms. All you have to do is call us at (405) 947-8041 in Oklahoma City or (580) 237-3338 in Enid, or simply fill out our contact form online.