There are many different foot problems that are a common source of pain for people of all ages. Flat feet is one of the most common foot deformities and affects people young and old. This foot deformity results from collapse of the arch of the foot.
The arch of the foot is made up of several small bones that are supported by the ligaments and tendons of foot. When first born, the arch is not formed and appears flat. As the person ages, the arch of the foot will begin to develop. There are instances where this does not occur in childhood and these children require orthopedic intervention. For most people with flat feet, this is a deformity that occurs later in life. This occurs when a previously normal arch loses its elasticity and remains flat.
The most common cause of flat feet is when a connective structure called the posterior tibial tendon malfunctions. There are also many other medical reasons for an acquired flat foot deformity. Obesity, arthritis and diabetes are commonly linked to collapsed arches. Diabetes is responsible for many foot problems and good sugar control is necessary to reduce the risk of open sores, infections and amputations.
This foot deformity is typically painless. Over time, patients with flat feet may begin to experience foot and ankle pain. This occurs when the collapsed arch causes the patient's ankles to turn in towards the midline, or pronate. Pronation places abnormal stress on the back, hip, knees and ankles.
There are two types of flat foot deformity.
Flexible Flat foot: This occurs in the majority of patients with flat feet. These patients are able to maintain their arch when standing on their toes. The arch will disappear complete when the foot has full contact with the ground. Flexible flat feet can be corrected with orthotic devices or with orthopedic shoes.
Rigid Flat Foot: If the arch is absent when the patients stands on their toes or when contained, this is called even rigid pes planus. Treatment of this foot deformity is more complicated that may require casting or surgery. The patient should be consult a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation of their feet to see which treatment method will be best for them.
Flat foot is a very common foot deformity that is usually easy to treat and does not cause significant pain. Most often, this deformity is treated using orthotic shoe inserts and orthopedic shoes but can sometimes require surgical repair.