Flat Feet

What are Flat Feet?

Flat feet, also known as “fallen arches” or “pes planus”, occur in approximately 20-30 percent of the population. One acquires flat foot when the foot loses the arch contour on the inner side of the sole. Some people have flat feet during and throughout their childhood whilst others may develop the condition as they age, after pregnancy or with certain medical conditions. This is a common problem that may lead to other issues later on in life if left untreated.

What Causes Flat Feet?

The cause of flat feet can vary from person to person. Flat feet can be hereditary, acquired and developed over time.

Common causes include the following:

  • Genetics
  • Weak arches/structures in the lower leg and foot
  • Age
  • Injury
  • Diabetes (Neuropathy, nerve dysfunction)

How Do I Know If I Have Flat Feet?

A number of people with fallen arches experience no pain and have no problems. Some, however, may experience pain not only in their feet but other areas of their body such as their ankles, knees and lower back.

Some signs and symptoms one may experience with flat feet includes:

  • Absence of a gap between the ground and arch when standing
  • Heel tilting away from the midline
  • Rolling in at the ankle (overpronation)
  • Walking with toes turned outwards
  • Tiredness in ankles and lower legs
  • Pain in the shin
  • Difficulty standing on tiptoes
  • Swelling that occurs on the inside of the ankle
  • Pain in the arch of the foot, heel, calf, knee, hip, or lower leg area

These signs and symptoms may vary according to the severity of the condition.

How Can Podiatry Help?

To attain an appropriate treatment plan, the podiatrist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your legs and feet to identify the cause or reason to the problem. A detailed history and physical examinations are often conducted.

Dynamic and static assessments will include:

  • Hip examination
  • Knee examination
  • Ankle and foot examination
  • Standing and gait analysis
  • Footwear analysis and advice

From the findings, the podiatrist will be able to construct a treatment plan for you. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may include the application of foot orthoses, footwear changes, or exercises.

In cases of a rigid flat feet and severe flexible flat feet that are irresponsive to conservative treatment methods, other specialist care may also be organised, as required. For milder conditions, conservative treatment methods such as customised insoles, strapping and immobilisation may be sufficient. However, if they are deemed ineffective, surgery may become necessary to relieve pain and improve the flexibility of the foot.