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Flat feet 

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Flat feet or fallen arches, as the name suggests, is an improper anatomy of your feet wherein the arch like shape of your sole is absent. As a result your feet fall directly on the ground. The medical terminology for flat feet is pes planus.


Symptoms associated with flat feet

You can easily realize that you are having flat feet by merely comparing the arch of your feet with others’. Normally, feet are arched and the center portion of the feet doesn’t touch the floor on resting because of that curvature.

In case of fallen arches, the arch will collapse and your feet will nearly or absolutely be in contact with the ground.

Usually it doesn’t pose any major complication in day –to-day life; but some people complain of instability while walking, pain and tiredness in feet or ankle or swelling around the ankle. However, these problems mostly arise due to wearing ill fitting shoes.

If your feet overpronate too much and you have issues with your body weight then your shoes will tend to wear out too often due to friction with the ground.


Causes of flat feet

One can observe flat feet more often in children and toddlers because at tender age the tendons of the feet are yet to form the arch. As a result they have flat feet which usually normalize as they grow.

However sometimes they do not outgrow the deformity and the arch is permanently absent.

The other reason for developing flat feet is injury in the tendon of feet or any loosening of the tendon due to illness, degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy and problems associated with the nervous system including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, etc.

Some other risk factors are: Age (more evident in women above 40 years) and obesity.


Do I need to see a doctor?

Flat feet are generally not something to worry about. However, you can take your kid or you yourself can check with a doctor on experiencing pain, weakness or stiffness in your feet or finding that your shoes are wearing out too soon despite investing on a good brand.


Diagnosis of flat feet

First of all your doctor will physically examine the pattern of your feet and would check how the insole is resting on the fall.

A common diagnostic test is- you will be asked to stand on your toes. Your doctor would look from the back; if the arch is absent then you have flat feet.

The functioning and formation of the tendons and causes of swelling and pain would further be detected with X ray, CT scan and MRI.


Treatment of flat feet

Your doctor will advise wearing appropriate orthopedic shoes designed for exclusively for flat feet. Avoid wearing high heels or totally flat based sandals and shoes. Make sure there’s enough cushioning. You can take OTC pain killers if your feet are aching or have become sore. Otherwise the best way to deal with swelling and pain is to soak your feet daily in warm water for half an hour.

Customized arch support or orthonotics will be given to you for supporting your feet. This is turn reduces pain and friction and offers greater stability to your feet.

Stretching exercise for the Achilles tendon or calf muscles would be shown to you for bringing about considerable improvement in your flat feet.

Surgery is generally not opted for unless there’s severe deformity in your feet due to congenital reasons or a major underlying complication is present in nerves, tendons or muscles.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: September 02, 2014