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Curving the Foot - A Brief Guide to Treating Flat Foot

What is Flat Foot?

Flat foot is a deformity of the foot which is also called pes planus or fallen arch. It is a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. In children who have flat foot at birth, the body usually heals itself within 3 years, but if not, the problem persists till it is treated suing modern techniques and treatments. The arch of the foot is important to the biomechanics of the feet and the collapse of the arch results in imbalance in walking or standing.

Is the Curve Necessary?

As stated earlier, the curve of the foot is related to the biomechanics of the foot. The curve connects the forefoot and the hind foot in an elastic way and helps supporting the force incurred by the foot. It dissipates the weight without increasing pressure on the thigh and the calf muscles and bones. If the arch doesn’t exist, the force falls directly on the thighs and the calves causing injuries and further deformities of the legs and feet.

Symptoms of Flat Foot

The gradual lowering of the arch of the foot is one of the first signs of flat foot. Over a period of time, the arch will completely collapse making the entire bottom of the foot to stick to the ground. As the arch begins lowering, pain starts developing in the feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, hips, and lower back. The muscles of all these limbs are connected to each other and the pressure of the upper body strains the muscles. Overpronation or the feet rolling inwards to a great extent causes extreme pain while walking or running and also requires a person to change shoes regularly. Major sign you should keep a check on are:

  • Collapsing of the arch of the foot
  • The bottom of the foot completely sticking to the ground
  • Pain in the adjoining area
  • Growing pain in the feet, legs, and back
  • Extreme pain and sometimes inflammation

Types of Flat Foot?

There are three major types of flat foot based on the anatomy of the condition.

  1. Short Achilles Tendon - The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscle. If the tendon is short in length, then the heel is forced to be pulled upwards causing the arch to collapse. A person might begin experiencing pain at a very early stage.
     

 
 

  1. Flexible Flat Foot - This is the most common type of flat foot and is usually acquired during childhood. The sole of the feet are in direct contact with the ground. The condition itself doesn’t cause pain, but the complications it causes can cause severe pain and discomfort.


 

  1. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction - The tendon that connects the calf muscles with the inside of the ankle also plays a role in supporting the arch of the foot. In a case where this muscle is damaged, swollen, or torn, the arch loses its integrity and causes a lot of pain.

What Causes Flat Foot?

One of the main ways a person acquires flat foot is through their parents. It can be termed a hereditary problem in a way. There are also chances that the feet bones did not get enough time to develop in the womb and hence the child is born with persistent flat feet. Nearly all children are born with flat foot since the muscles and tendons haven’t developed yet. But gradually the muscles develop and raise the arch to its original position. Other major reasons that cause flat foot are:

  1. Loose connective tissue because of either Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
  2. Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida causing the muscles and nerves to dysfunction
  3. Excessive use of the feet thus straining and tearing the muscles
  4. Obesity
  5. Improper footwear
  6. Age

Preventing Flat Foot

Wearing proper shoes is a must, as size inappropriate shoes can damage muscles in the feet and result in flat foot. If there are any muscle related problems in the feet, one should immediately consult the doctor so that further complications do not lead to flat foot. There is no way to prevent the condition if it is hereditary.

Treatment Solutions for Flat Foot

  1. Arch Supports - Arch Supports are specially designed to support the arch and take care that no further damage is sustained by the arch of the foot. They absorb shocks and are designed to fit all feet sizes. They can be either worn on the foot or inserted in the shoe.
Spenco RX Orthotic Full Length Arch Supports
 
  1. Arch Sleeves - Arch Sleeves work like compression bandages restricting the movement of the arch and allowing the injury to heal. While the injury heals, that absorbs all the pressure and strain exerted on the arch.
Silipos TheraStep Plantar Fasciitis Arch Sleeve
 

Flat Foot is a very common and treatable problem which usually isn’t painful. But the complications it ensues can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, and can many a time severe damage to the legs or feet. The right kind of treatment can help cure the deformity and restore normal feet functions.