A flat foot (pes planus) is a structural deformity resulting in the lowering of the arch of the foot.
This is sometimes referred to as fallen arches or pronation of the feet. A person with a flat foot needs assessment to determine whether they are at risk for long-term complications. People with flat feet may have ankle, knee or lower back pain.
Flat feet due to injury, disease, or normal aging are not preventable. In some cases, flat feet are caused by a physical abnormality, such as tarsal coalition (two or more bones in the foot that have grown together) or accessory navicular (an extra bone along the side of the foot).
The effects of diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to flat feet. An injury (e.g., bone fracture, dislocation, sprain or tear in any of the tendons and ligaments in the foot and leg) can also cause flat feet.
Flat arches in children usually become proper arches and high arches while the child progresses through adolescence and into adulthood. If a child begins to walk oddly or clumsily, for example on the outer edges of the feet, or to limp during long walks, or complain about calf muscle pains or any other pains around the foot area, seek an assessment by a Podiatrist.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
The primary symptom of flat feet is the absence of an arch when standing. Other symptoms may include:
- Foot pain
- Pain or weakness in the lower legs
- Pain or swelling on the inside of the ankle
- Uneven shoe wear
When flat feet are related to lifestyle factors, such as physical activities, shoe selection, and weight gain, careful attention to these factors may prevent the development of flat feet.
When to see a Podiatrist
Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot complications among people with flat feet, they can:
- Examine your feet
- Do a gait analysis
- Prescribe custom-made orthotics
- Perform surgery if required
Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot problems. Prompt action is important. Problems which are left without assessment or treatment may result in major health risks.