Flat foot, also known as pes planus, is a condition where the arches of the feet collapse or have a very low arch, making the entire sole come into contact with the ground when standing. It can be present from childhood or can develop later in life.
Types of flat feet can be categorised as flexible flat feet and rigid flat feet:
Flat feet are relatively common and can be seen in both children and adults. It’s estimated that approximately 20-30% of the population have flat feet. Some individuals may experience no symptoms or issues due to their flat feet, while others might face pain or discomfort, particularly if the condition affects their gait or causes strain on other parts of the body, like the ankles or knees.
Flat foot can develop due to various factors:
Symptoms associated with flat feet can vary from person to person. While some individuals might have flat feet without experiencing any discomfort or issues, others may have symptoms such as:
Diagnosing flat feet typically involves a combination of a physical examination and, if needed, imaging tests. A healthcare professional, usually a podiatrist or orthopaedic specialist, will typically:
The doctor will observe the feet while standing and sitting, checking for visible signs of a lowered or absent arch. They may also evaluate how the feet and ankles move and how the individual walks.
This involves observing the individual’s gait or walking pattern to assess any abnormalities or issues in movement that may be related to flat feet.
X-rays may be used to examine the structure of the foot and ankle bones to detect any misalignments or structural abnormalities.
Flat feet, in some cases, may lead to certain complications or issues. These can include:
Treatment for flat feet depends on the severity of symptoms and the impact on an individual’s daily life. Here are some common approaches:
Custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts, arch supports, or orthotic devices can provide additional arch support and alleviate discomfort.
Shoes with proper arch support and adequate stability can help reduce discomfort associated with flat feet.
Specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen muscles and improve foot function.
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the strain on the feet and lower limbs.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can alleviate pain or inflammation.
In rare instances when flat feet cause severe pain or discomfort that doesn’t respond to conservative treatments, surgery might be considered to correct structural issues in the feet.
While some causes of flat feet, like genetics, cannot be prevented, some steps may help reduce the risk of developing or worsening the condition:
Living with flat feet often involves managing symptoms and making lifestyle adjustments to reduce discomfort. Here are some tips:
Flat feet can be a common condition, and while it might not always cause significant issues, for some, it can lead to discomfort or affect daily activities. Managing flat feet involves appropriate care, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, seeking professional guidance. If you’re experiencing discomfort or limitations due to flat feet, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice.
For personalised evaluation and guidance, we encourage you to request an appointment with The Orthopaedic Practice and Surgery Clinic. Our specialists can provide tailored recommendations and support to manage flat feet and improve foot health and overall well-being. Your comfort and health matter to us. Contact us today for expert care.