Conditions & Symptoms

Flat Feet

The medical term for “flat feet” is “pes planus” or sometimes we just call them “fallen arches. You are considered to have flat feet when the arches that give the foot its characteristic shape are flattened so that the whole sole of the foot touches the ground upon standing.

Having flat feet is very common and rarely does it hurt. You can be born with flat feet or you can develop it as you age with wear and tear on the feet while walking on them. Even though flat feet aren’t usually painful, they can cause problems with the alignment of the joints in your legs, particularly the knees and the ankles. Even if this happens, you may have no pain and there will be no treatment required.

Symptoms of Flat Feet

Many people have flat feet and don’t know it because they have no symptoms. They can wear regular shoes and can walk normally. In other cases, the flat feet can cause pain in the feet, particularly in the area of the arch or in the heel area. The pain might worsen when standing or walking on the feet or there can be swelling along the inner aspect of the ankle. You can have just one flat foot or both feet can be flat.

Causes of Flat Feet

It is normal to have a flat foot if you are a baby or a toddler because it takes a bit of aging before the arch becomes fully developed. Usually the arches form in childhood but, in some cases, this never happens and the foot or feet remain flat.

It is possible to have a flat foot that is flexible. This means that the child has a visible arch as long as the child is sitting down or standing on his or her tiptoes. As soon as the child stands directly on the floor, however, the arch disappears. As the child grows, the ligaments that create the arch become stronger and the flat foot disappears, leaving behind a normal arch.

Adults can have flat feet even if they once had normal feet. People who are on their feet a lot will cause the ligaments that create the arch to weaken, causing the foot or feet to become flatter.

Risk Factors for Flat Feet

While you are usually born with flat feet, there can be reasons why you have flat feet as an adult. These include the following:

  • You can have an injury to the ankle or foot that disrupts the supporting ligaments of the foot arch.
  • You can be very overweight, which puts excess pressure on the arches to hold your body up.
  • You can suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which deforms the joints of the foot, flattening out the foot in the process.
  • The incidence of flat feet increases as you age because the strength of the ligaments is not as great and the feet flatten out.

Diagnosing Flat Feet

Much of the diagnosis of flat feet involve the podiatrist examining your foot when you are sitting down and when you are standing on them. They can make a mold of the foot showing the flatness of the arch of the foot. The podiatrist will also look at your shoes to see how they have worn down over time as it is different with flat feet when compared to normal feet.

In unusual circumstances, the podiatrist may use x-rays and the like to diagnose your problem. A plain x-ray of the foot may show arthritis of the foot as a cause of your flat feet. CT scanning can look at the foot in three dimensions and can see exactly where the bones are positioned. If the podiatrist believes you have an injured ligament or tendon, an ultrasound may be ordered of the foot to show what the soft tissues look like. MRI scanning will also show any abnormality of the bones and soft tissue of the foot but is rarely necessary.

Treatment of Flat Feet

If you have no pain, the podiatrist will likely not do anything about the fact that you have flat feet. If you are in pain, the podiatrist may recommend arch supports you can buy at the pharmacy or will make use of custom made arch supports. They won’t correct the problem but they can often lessen the pain. You may have flat feet because your Achilles tendon is too short. Exercises can be recommended to lengthen the Achilles tendon.

The podiatrist may recommend that you wear a more supportive shoe. You will not be able to wear flip-flops or flat sandals without some kind of pain. If you are a runner who has suffered from flat feet due to repetitive pounding on the pavement, the podiatrist can take a video of you running to make suggestions that will help improve your running technique so the pain will be lessened. Surgery is not usually necessary to repair flat feet.

Other Foot Conditions & Symptoms

Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprains

Most ankle sprains come from accidently inverting the foot. When you invert the foot, you twist the ankle inward, landing on the outside bone of the ankle. This causes tearing and stretching of the ligaments that support the outside part of the ankle. You will have...

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Bunions

Bunions

The medical terms for bunions are hallux abducto valgus or just hallux valgus. It is a common foot problem, especially among women. It involves having a large bump on the inner aspect of the foot at the site of the connection between the big toe and the foot itself....

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Cavus Foot

Cavus Foot

Having a cavus foot basically means you are a person with very high arches. Rather than putting pressure on the whole of the foot, the pressure of standing and walking is placed on the ball of the foot and the heel of the foot, leading to instability and pain when...

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Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thickened and hard areas of skin that happen when the skin protects itself against the pressure and friction of shoes or the ground. While they can look ugly, they are not dangerous and can easily be treated if they are painful. If you just...

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Diabetic Foot

Diabetic Foot

If you suffer from diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2), this means your blood sugar is too high over much of the time. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves, starting with the foot. It can result in a loss of feeling in the foot and poor...

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Heel Pain

Heel Pain

The heel is designed to take a lot of stress. It is padded with thick skin and fat so you can pound the pavement or do sports activities without pain. If you do these things to excess, however, you can develop various kinds of heel pain. Heel pain can occur from...

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Illiotibial Band Syndrome

Illiotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is also referred to as ITBS. It is a common overuse injury that runner’s incur by running too much. The syndrome happens when the ligament running from the outer portion of the thigh to the outer aspect of the shin (the iliotibial band)...

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Ingrown Nails

Ingrown Nails

Onychocryptosis is the technical term for an ingrown toenail, this is an often painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. This condition has been found only in shoe-wearing cultures and does not occur in...

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Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown Toenails

The medical term for ingrown toenail is onychocryptosis. Ingrown toenails usually affect the great toe. Usually only one toe is affected but some people can have ingrown toenails on both feet. They are most common in athletes who scuff up their toes often and often...

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Knee Pain

Knee Pain

The knee joint takes a great deal of your weight when you are walking so it is especially prone to becoming painful or being injured. You can suffer from acute knee pain because of a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury. You can also suffer from chronic knee pain...

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Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is the general medical term for having inflammation and pain in the ball of the foot. It isn’t a disease in and of itself but is a symptom of other problems going on with the foot. The main cause of metatarsalgia is overuse of the foot. It is seen often...

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Morton’s Neuromas

Morton’s Neuromas

A Morton’s neuroma stems from having excess pressure on the nerves of your foot, usually from wearing shoes that are too tight. It is actually a small ball of nerve bundles that have formed a benign tumor on the ball of the foot, usually located in the web space...

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Pigeon Toe Gait

Pigeon Toe Gait

A pigeon toe gait goes by many different medical names including intoeing, metatarsus adductus, metatarsus varus, and false club foot. These are all just fancy terms to describe a person who has toes that point toward the inside of the foot when they walk. Many...

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Scoliosis

Scoliosis

Scoliosis usually means you have curvature of the spine that goes in a lateral direction. The curvature is usually in the thoracic and lumbar spine and can lead to chronic back pain, an obvious deformity of the spine, and an abnormal gait. Scoliosis usually happens...

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Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common name for tibial stress syndrome, which results in pain in the shin bone or tibia of the lower leg. The tibia is the main bone that takes the stress of the lower leg when running or doing sports. Shin splints are especially common in people...

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Verrucas Plantar Warts

Verrucas Plantar Warts

Verruca (or plantar warts) are a contagious, viral, and usually painful wart on the sole of the foot. The Foot Practice sees many patients who are frustrated with the condition, having tried all manner of treatments at other clinics. We are pleased that we have an...

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