F is for flatfoot

April 28, 2013

Flatfoot is not a very good term as there is a lot more to it than just a flattening of the foot. Overpronation is an equally bad term for this.

flat foot

Flatfoot, also known as pes planus or fallen arches, is a common condition where the arches of the feet are flattened, causing the entire sole of the foot to come into contact with the ground. Flatfoot can be present from birth (congenital) or develop later in life (acquired). Here are some key points about flatfoot:

  1. Types of Flatfoot:
    • Flexible flatfoot: The arch appears when the foot is not bearing weight, but it flattens when weight is applied. Flexible flatfoot is common in children and often resolves as they grow older.
    • Rigid flatfoot: The arch is absent both when the foot is bearing weight and when it is not. Rigid flatfoot is usually due to a structural abnormality and may cause more symptoms and require treatment.
  2. Causes:
    • Congenital factors: Some individuals are born with flatfoot due to genetic or developmental factors.
    • Weak foot muscles: Weakness or imbalances in the muscles and tendons of the feet can contribute to the development of flatfoot.
    • Injury or trauma: Certain injuries, such as fractures or ligament damage, can result in flatfoot.
    • Aging and wear and tear: The supportive structures of the feet may weaken over time, leading to the development of flatfoot in some individuals.
  3. Symptoms:
    • Flat appearance of the arches when standing or walking.
    • Foot pain, especially in the arch area or along the inside of the ankle.
    • Swelling or tenderness in the foot or ankle.
    • Difficulty standing on tiptoes or performing activities that require arch support.
  4. Treatment:
    • Conservative measures: Non-surgical treatments are typically recommended first and may include supportive footwear, orthotic inserts or arch supports, physical therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, and weight management.
    • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs may help manage pain and inflammation associated with flatfoot.
    • Immobilization: In some cases, immobilizing the foot with a cast or brace may be necessary to allow for healing or to reduce symptoms.
    • Surgical intervention: Surgery is typically considered as a last resort when conservative measures have failed, and the individual experiences severe pain or functional limitations. Surgical procedures aim to reconstruct or restore the arch and address any underlying structural abnormalities.

Consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist, for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan for flatfoot. They can evaluate the severity of the condition, assess any underlying causes, and recommend the most appropriate treatment options for individual circumstances.


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