Flat Feet, known to your doctor as Pens Planus is a condition where the arch of the foot is weak or damaged, causing it to be permanently collapsed or for it to collapse upon standing.
Flat Feet in Adults
Flat feet may develop during adulthood due to injuries or tears to ligaments. Some people may live with flat foot problems for many years and not realise until they become pregnant or become older, and put on one or two stone. Battling a degenerative condition, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis may also lead to flat foot.
Suddenly, symptoms of back pain, knee pain, and leg pain may appear. While it may seem logical to blame the offending joint, it may be due to foot changes which cause the body to become misaligned.
When one has flat feet, the changes in the feet whilst standing, ultimately cause:
- The heel to turn outwards
- The midfoot to turn inwards (Hyperpronation or Over-Pronantion)
- The forefoot to turn outwards
These alterations to the bones change the alignment of knees and put strain on the lower back. The knee pain from flat foot generally aches behind the knee cap (Patella) and radiates into the thigh. Eventual damage can be done to the joint tissues in the knee. Should is be a severe case, in time the knees may turn inward (knock-knee).
Should treatment be necessary, in many cases orthotic inserts in the shoes may alleviate the problem completely. When the arch is supported and lifted into a normal state, this may correct the pronation and restore symmetry. A Podiatrist or physiotherapist may be needed when custom orthotics need to be made.
Flat Feet in Children
Many small children have flexible flat foot. Whilst the child grows and the small bones develop, flat feet are relatively normal. Most cases will resolve by age ten, and the feet will continue to grow and develop normally. If the flat foot problems do not resolve or the child suffers shin or pains in the knee, it may be time to visit a peadiatrician. Shin pain from flat foot may be dismissed as growing pains and may be frustrating to the child and parent. A parent sometimes may have to question the doctor further if they feel there is more to the problem.
There are multiple reasons why a child might have flexible flat foot which continues into adolescence. Genetic connective tissue disorders are the most common culprit. Conditions such as one of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, Marfan’s Syndrome, or Stickler Syndrome may be to blame.
Whilst these may cause additional or different health problems to the flat feet, and should be investigated, the treatment for the asymmetry is the same. Orthotics in shoes, perhaps some light ankle braces if the problem progresses, and the peadiatrician may recommend paracetamol to help with pains. Sometimes exercise will also help pains and a child may be sent to physiotherapy to improve the strength of soft tissues in the feet.
For adults and children, a body in balance and symmetry means a happier body!