How to Help Flat Feet – Tips From a Harrisburg Foot Surgeon
We’ve all heard the expression “flat-footed,” but what exactly does it mean? Pes Planus, also known as “fallen arches”, is quite common, affecting about 25% of Americans. While flat feet are usually painless, they can sometimes lead to a number of health complications. Below are some common causes of flat feet, and treatments that can help.
How To Determine if You Have Flat Feet
If you aren’t certain whether or not you have flat feet, try this simple home test. Simply wet the bottoms of your feet with water, and then carefully step onto a plain sheet of brown or white paper. (If you don’t have any paper on hand, you can also use a dry concrete sidewalk.) If your entire foot is visible in the wet footprint, and you can’t see a spot of dryness where your arch should be, then you have flat feet.
Causes of Flat Feet
All children and infants have naturally loose foot tendons. By the age of three, those tendons tighten, and the foot’s arches develop. For about 25% of the population, however, that process simply never occurs and the feet remain flat. Flat feet can also develop as a person ages. The daily wear-and-tear placed on the feet can cause the foot tendons to weaken and the arches to drop down in line with the rest of the foot. Conditions like pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can also contribute to having flat feet.
Issues Caused By Flat Feet
People with flat feet may experience soreness, swelling, or pain on the inside or outside of the ankle, which worsens with physical activity. Flat feet can also cause knee pain, because they alter the normal alignment of the feet and legs. Some flat-footed people have trouble walking or even standing for any length of time.
How To Treat Flat Feet
Those who experience only moderate foot pain may not need any treatment at all, and can be helped by rest, ice, NSAIDs, and foot compression sleeves. More serious pain can be treated with custom orthotics, physical therapy, injections of corticosteroids, or foot surgery. If you are experiencing any amount of discomfort in your feet or ankles, be sure to consult a podiatrist or foot surgeon in your area.