1 What are Flatfeet?

People with flatfeet have flattened arches at the side of their feet. This makes the feet soles of the feet to completely touch the floor when they stand.

It is usually not painful and usually develops in childhood. They can also be caused by injuries of the ligaments in the feet that are responsible for the normal structure of the arches pf the feet.

This can occur in any age group although it mostly affects children. Even if they may not cause any pain in the feet, they can cause pain and discomfort in the ankles and knees which can make standing and walk difficult or painful.

Treatment is usually not required unless if the person who is affected has pain.

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2 Symptoms

Most people with flatfeet rarely develop symptoms. However, if symptoms appear, they include pain and swelling in the arches of the feet and ankles and knees in severe cases.

The pain experienced usually intensifies with increased activity.

3 Causes

Flatfeet in adults is caused by poor arch development in childhood.

Because the arches in the foot are not well developed in infants and toddlers, they usually have flatfeet. This is normal for this age group.

However, after this age the feet should not be flat. This is usually caused by poor development of the arches of the feet during childhood.

Another cause is the wearing out of the tendons that are found on the side of the feet especially in the elderly.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of flatfeet is done by performing several tests.

Apart from observing the feet from the front and back when the patient is in a standing position, imaging tests can also be carried out.

These include:

  • simple x-ray in which a limited amount of radiation is used to view the structure and position of the bones in the feet,
  • CT scan- which uses x-rays to produce cross-sectional images, thus, it produces more details than an x-ray image
  • MRI- in which radiowaves and magnetic fields are used to view not only bones but also the soft tissues of the feet.
  • ultrasonography can also be used to view soft tissues like tendons

5 Treatment

Treatment is only required if flatfeet are accompanied by pain. Treatment includes:

  • using orthotic devices which provide support for the arches. They are custom-made to suit the feet of the person who requires them. Although they help reduce pain, they do not cure flatfeet.
  • regular stretching exercises since they can help in stretching the tendons in the side of the feet
  • wearing comfortable and supportive shoes
  • physical therapy especially if the cause of flatfeet is due to an injury
  • surgery can be performed if the cause issue to detachment or rupture of the tendsĀ on the side of the feet.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with flatfeet.

Lifestyle changes can include:

  • avoiding stressful activities like jumping and running which may aggravate the symptoms
  • wearing aggravates
  • taking painkillers that decrease pain
  • losing weight since it reduces the stress on the feet

7 Risks and Complications

The risk factors for developing flatfeet include: