Your feet are the foundation of your body. If your feet are out of alignment, it can cause problems throughout your body's skeletal structure. When the arch is fully collapsed or rolls inward, you have flat feet, meaning you're missing crucial arch support. People with flat fleet must therefore shift pressure from walking to other parts of the foot, which can cause intense pain. If left untreated, flat feet not only cause pain, but can lead to other, more serious foot and lower body joint problems.
Flat feet can be present at birth or develop at an early age, and are often hereditary.
In some people, however, they develop as a symptom of foot abuse that can develop from any of the following:
- Weakened muscles due to aging or heavy strain placed
on the feet.
- Standing or walking for long periods in high heels.
- Wearing shoes that don't provide proper arch support.
The biggest signs of flat fleet are discomfort and pain. As the normal arch begins to drop, walking can become very uncomfortable. The foot can also turn outward at the ankle, causing a walk that's concentrated on the inner border of the foot.
Due to the less supportive structure of a flat foot, postural strain and misalignment through the foot, ankle, knee and lower back can cause consistent daily discomfort.
The depression of the arch in the foot also puts more strain on the ligament and tendons that support the foot and ankle, and over time, the bones may collapse. Flat feet can therefore lead to heel spurs, ankle sprains, hip and lower back pain, and even contribute to the development of arthritis.
In most people, flat feet can be treated with proper shoes.
Look for shoes that:
- Offer support and stability through the arch.
- Use insoles that support the arch and help stabilize the heel.
Also, consider using custom orthotics to aid in arch support.
In extreme cases, surgery may be required to stabilize the bones and improve foot support and function. A podiatrist or orthopedic doctor will decide if surgery is necessary.