What are ‘flat feet’ ?
Having flat feet, or ‘fallen arches’, means that your feet have low or no arches and press almost completely flat against the ground. The medical name for flat feet is ‘Pronation’.
The arch, or instep, is the middle part of the foot that’s usually raised off the ground when you stand, while the rest of the foot remains flat on the ground (an arch isn’t always visible in young children because of the baby fat and soft tissue in their feet. It usually develops and appears as they get older).
But some people never really develop this arch. Sometimes this is because they inherited flat feet from their parents. Many patients we see at Waverley Foot Clinic are concerned in the past they may have caused their foot problems. However, often we discover one of their parents had very similar feet and sometimes similar issues. This genetic factor can influence both flat feet and bunions plus other conditions.
What causes flat feet?
As mentioned many people simply inherit flat feet from their parents which may or may not cause clinical problems e.g foot pain or back pain.
But wear and tear issues can often play their part. Life expectancy has dramatically increased over the last 100 years. This may cause the connective tissue (that holds the feet bones together) becoming stretched and inflamed – possibly as a result of overuse, unsupportive footwear, an injury, increasing age and obesity. Most peoples feet become slightly longer and wider over the years as the arch slowly collapses.
Occasionally, flat feet can be the result of:
- the feet bones not forming properly in the womb
- loose connective tissue throughout the body, such as in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or joint hypermobility syndrome
- a condition affecting the muscles and nerves, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy
- rheumatoid arthritis
Are flat feet a problem?
With flat feet, there is often nothing to worry about. Many people with flat feet don’t have any associated problems, so treatment isn’t necessary.
However, problems start when flat feet or pronation is associated with:
- pain in the feet
- pain above the feet including ankles, lower legs and knees
- Hip or lower back pain is often associated with flat feet
- the feet rolling inwards too much (over pronation) – this can cause shoes to wear out quickly and lead to other foot injuries
- an underlying problem with the bones, muscles or connective tissues in and around the feet
Consider seeking medical advise from a Podiatrist or GP for treatment if you have any of these problems.
Treatments for flat feet / pronation
Non-surgical treatments are often recommended first, although surgery may be needed in some unusual cases.
Your Podiatrist will carry out a full foot and lower limb examination. This will determine if flat feet are the cause of your problem and symptom e.g. foot or back pain.
Treatment options are designed to support the arch helping the feet to regain it’s correct shape, which in turn this enables the body to regain an improved posture.
Digital Biomechanical Assessment
If flat feet need support custom orthtoics may be prescribed. Using a digital gait analysis stystem we can determine the precise support required Biomechanics / Sports Injury Foot Pain. This ensures the orthotic insoles are both comfortable and effective. A wide choice of orthotics are available to ensure they fit into what ever shoe type a patient may have. From running trainers to smart business shoes or narrow ladies dress shoes can all be accommodated comfortably.
What next if your flat feet cause problems or pain
If you feel your flat feet may be causing problems simply arrange a digital bio-mechanical assessment at Waverley Foot Clinic in Farnham on 01252 716611. We will be happy to access you and discuss treatment options to best relieve any pain and maintain good long term foot health.