By Rehan Iqbal
Can flat feet be a serious problem? Having flat feet can be just a natural part of life that makes no difference. If you were born with flat feet and continued to have flat feet as you grew up, they may not cause you any problems and there may be no action necessary in dealing with them.
On the other hand, if you have developed flat feet over time due to a health condition or an injury, they may cause you quite a bit of difficulty and you may need to seek the help of your doctor and/or your podiatrist to correct the problem. In this article, we discuss the causes of flat feet and provide good advice to help you evaluate and deal with your circumstances.
How Do You Know You Have Flat Feet?
If you have flat feet, you can tell by your footprint. One common test for evaluating flat footedness involves stepping into a tray of water and then stepping onto a piece of cardboard. If the wet foot print you leave indicates that the whole sole of your foot has made contact with the cardboard, you know that you have flat feet. If you are concerned about the flatness of your feet, it can be a good idea to do this sort of test from time-to-time to see if your condition has changed.
What Causes Flat Feet?
The flatness of your feet changes throughout your life. When you’re a baby, you're very likely to have flat feet. As you mature, your feet strengthen and arches usually develop. In some people this is not the case, and they may have naturally flat feet that do not cause pain or distress.
Sometimes a person may develop normal arches and then they may become flat as the years go by. This can be caused by a number of things including having a job that forces you to stand for long periods of time.
If you wear badly fitted shoes, this can only make the problem worse. Wearing high heels will cause your arches to fall and may cause your ankle bones to lean inward. This can also lead to becoming knock-kneed.
Even if you do wear the right kinds of shoes and take good care of your feet you may develop flat feet as you age because of problems such as rheumatoid arthritis that cause bones to settle and compact.
Being overweight can cause undue stress on your arches which may cause them to fall. Additionally weight gain during pregnancy can cause fallen arches.
How Can You Tell If Your Flat Feet Are Causing Serious Problems?
If you are naturally flat-footed and you aren’t experiencing any pain or significant problems, then your condition is not serious and needs little or no correction. You may wish to use shoe inserts for more comfort, and it's always a good idea to massage and exercise your feet to keep them strong.
If your flat feet hurt, you know you have a problem. Sometimes it's not the feet that hurt, but flat footedness can cause a lot of other problems. For example, you may find that you have:
When this is the case, your flat feet may not be particularly painful, but they may be causing pain in other areas. Painful joints, heels and back are always best seen by a professional. Your doctor or podiatrist is sure to have lots of good ideas about relieving pain in your arches and the overall pain that flat feet can cause.
What Will The Doctor Do About Flat Feet?
Initially, the focus may be on the reduction of inflammation and swelling. This is actually something you can address at home in any case. Whenever you're experiencing pain in your feet or joints, rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) are always a good idea. Additionally, you may take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. These simple actions can keep you comfortable until you can see your doctor.
When you go to see your general practitioner, he or she will probably evaluate the situation and may give you a referral to a podiatrist. The podiatrist may take a cast of your foot, perform an ultrasound or x-ray or use other diagnostic techniques to determine exactly what's wrong with your feet. He or she will also examine your gait and otherwise evaluate the way you move.
Based on the results of the examination, the podiatrist may recommend that you use prescription orthotics in your shoes to help correct your flat feet and also any misalignment in your ankles, knees, hips and back. Prescription orthotics are made to order just for you and can be very helpful in dealing with complicated problems caused by flat feet.
Alternately, your podiatrist may recommend over-the-counter shoe inserts or may recommend that you also use over-the-counter shoe inserts for other types of shoes aside from your regular every day shoes.
In very rare cases, a podiatrist may refer you. In very rare cases, a podiatrist may recommend that you see an orthopedic surgeon for possible surgical treatment.