By JAY MERMELSTEIN, DPM
March 12, 2021
Category: Foot Care
Tags: flat feet
Are you flat-footed? If so, you join the ranks of about 18 million American adults over age 21 that also have this common foot condition, reports the National Foot Health Assessment. Having flat feet simply means that you don’t have arches in your feet, which means that the entire foot touches the ground when you stand or walk. While flat feet won’t cause problems for some, others may regularly deal with achy, sore feet or pain in the ankles, legs, or thigh. If you are dealing with foot pain and you think it may be due to flat feet, your podiatrist can help.
What causes flat feet?
Sometimes flat feet are simply inherited (thanks mom and dad!). Other times they develop as a result of a weakening of the posterior tibial tendon due to age-related wear and tear, physical activity, and overpronation. Those who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop flat feet.
Should I be concerned about my child’s flat feet?
The arches of the feet develop during childhood, so it’s not normal for your baby or toddler to have arches. Their flat feet are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Arches typically won’t form until your child is two or three years old, and some children won’t develop arches until the age of five.
What are some ways to treat flat feet?
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms then there is no reason to seek treatment for your flat feet; however, if you are dealing with foot pain, particularly around the heel or arches of the foot, then you should talk with your podiatrist about ways to ease your pain and prevent further flare-ups. Some conservative ways to treat flat feet include,
- Wearing properly fitted shoes that provide ample cushioning and support for the entire foot, particularly the arches and heel
- Consider getting prescription orthotics from your podiatrist, which can evenly distribute the weight throughout the foot rather than putting added pressure on the arches or heel
- Losing weight, if the patient is overweight or obese
- Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce pain and swelling
- Talking to your podiatrist about special exercises that you can do to improve the strength and function of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the foot to reduce pain
- Weighing the pros and cons of surgical intervention
Fallen arches and flat feet can impact a person’s ability to walk or run. If you are dealing with pain and other issues due to flat feet, a podiatrist can provide you with simple solutions to ease discomfort and improve how your feet function as a whole.