By Rehan Iqbal
Some people have flat feet and never experience any discomfort. Others have mild symptoms that are easy to manage with stretching exercises and other natural remedies. Then there are people who suffer moderate to extreme discomfort because their feet never developed arches in early childhood or their arches fell later in life.
To help you determine the potential side effects of flat feet, we created a list of potential flat foot complications. Not everyone will experience these complications, but you should remain aware of the possibilities if you or your loved ones have flat feet.
Complications That Can Occur With Flat Feet
Pain and Fatigue
One of the most common side effects of flat feet is fatigue during physical activity. You may also experience pain in your feet and legs. For some people, the feet also feel stiff and difficult to move. When you put these symptoms together, you see why flat feet can interfere with your quality of life.
If your flat feet make it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle or participate in sports and other physical activities, it’s time to consult with a medical practitioner experienced with flat foot treatment options. There are stretches and other natural interventions that can enhance comfort and make it easier to enjoy an active lifestyle.
When an extra or extended section of bone develops on the end of a healthy bone, it’s referred to as a bone spur. These spurs often develop near joints and are more common in people with arthritis or other medical conditions impacting the joints.
Bone spurs can develop in flat feet due to the extra strain placed on the feet during movement. Foot arches are designed to balance the body and help the foot properly absorb the pressure that comes with walking, running, jumping, and other movements.
Without those arches, the foot absorbs the full pressure of movement. All parts of the foot receive greater, continuous stress. With time, the joints may start to break down. The body may produce more bone as a result, which can lead to painful bone spurs.
Bone spurs don’t go away on their own. You can manage the pain and discomfort, but surgery is the only way to get rid of a spur.
Flat feet are known for overpronation. That means the foot leans more toward the inside, and the bottom of the foot presses fully against the ground. That excessive pronation stresses the legs as you move, leading to shin splints over time.
Shin splints are characterized by pain and discomfort along the tibia, which runs along the front of your lower legs. The pain is often caused by inflammation of the bone tissue, tendons, and muscles surrounding the tibia. That inflammation is the result of strain and stress on the legs, which can occur because of flat feet.
You can heal shin splints through rest and simple treatments to reduce inflammation. If you don’t also treat the overpronation caused by your flat feet, you may experience repeated shin splints.
Low Back, Knee & Hip Pain
Lack of foot arches causes the foot to roll inward, and that throws off balance, gait, and shock absorption. That can lead to pain in the foot, lower legs, knees, hips, and on up to the lower back. Some people never experience this pain at all, while others experience extreme pain and stiffness that makes movement difficult.
It’s important to consult with a medical practitioner to determine the most likely cause of your pain. There are many things that can lead to pain in the lower back, knees, and hips. A doctor can evaluate your body and determine other potential contributing factors. That allows you to create an effective treatment strategy to ease your pain and improve your quality of life.
It’s more difficult to balance the weight of your body when you don’t have arches on your feet. You may feel more unsteady or off balance, which can lead to more falls and stumbles over time. You’re vulnerable to a wide range of injuries that can come from stumbling into things or falling to the ground.
Not everyone experiences balance issues, and there are some other medical conditions that can cause this symptom. It’s important to talk to a doctor right away if you don’t normally feel unbalanced but suddenly start losing your balance often. You want to lower your risk of falling and sustaining injuries whether the problem is caused by your flat feet or another issue.
Blisters, Corns & Calluses
Flat feet are more prone to developing blisters because you have more skin rubbing against shoes and pressing into the floor. The full foot pushes down, and there’s more strain on the bottoms of the feet. That can cause rubbing that leads to calluses, corns, and painful blisters.
You can reduce your risk of blisters by wearing comfortable footwear that cushions the bottoms of your feet and prevents unnecessary rubbing. Your doctor may also recommend orthotics to ensure a better fit and reduce friction that may lead to foot discomfort.
When to See a Doctor for Flat Feet
If you experience any routine pain or discomfort from your flat feet, it’s time to visit a doctor. You don’t have to wait for the pain to get so bad that it interferes with your quality of life. An experienced foot doctor will create a personalized care plan that addresses your unique needs.
The earlier you receive treatment for your flat feet, the less likely you are to develop more severe symptoms. For instance, improving your posture and gait with reduced overpronation may spare you from long-term damage that leads to foot, leg, hip, and back pain.