Flatfeet - Health Center


By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Flatfeet – Basic Overview

A flatfoot is a condition in which the arch on the inside of the feet is flattened which allows the entire sole of the foot to touch the floor when the person stands up.

A flatfoot is a common and a painless condition which occurs when the arches have not developed during the childhood. In some other cases, the condition develops after an injury or from the wear and tear after ages.

Flatfeet can sometimes be a contributing factor to the problems in the ankles and the knees as the condition can alter the alignment of the legs. If the patient is not experiencing any pain, then no treatment is needed for the condition. 

Causes of Flatfeet:

Flatfeet is very common and normal amongst the infants and the toddlers because their foot arch has not developed completely. Throughout the childhood, the foot arch develops. However, in some cases, the arches never develop. With this normal variation in the foot type, people without arches may or may not develop problems.

Arches also tend to fall over time. With the wear and tear over the years, the tendons can weaken on the inside of the ankle which helps to support the arch. This may lead to flatfoot. 

Signs and Symptoms of Flatfoot:

Most people suffering from Flatfoot do not show any signs or symptoms. However, some people suffering from this condition may experience foot pain around the heel and the arch area. Swelling on the inside of the ankle may also appear as a symptom of the condition.

It is recommended to seek medical attention if you or your child has been experiencing pain in the foot.

Tests and Diagnosis of Flatfoot:

During the primary physical examination, the doctor will observe the feet of the patient from the front and the back in order to view the mechanics of the feet. They may also want to look at the wear patterns on the shoes in order to determine the extent of the condition. Certain imaging tests can be done in order to diagnose the condition completely. They are as follows:

  1. X Rays: Simple X Rays use a small amount of radiation in order to produce the images of the bones and the joints of the feet. This test is very useful in order to detect arthritis.
  2. CT Scans: These tests use the X Rays of the foot from different angles in order to produce a more detailed image of the foot.
  3. Ultrasound: In case the doctor suspects an injured tendon, an ultrasound test can be done in order to obtain a detailed image of the soft tissues within the body.
  4. MRI Test: Radio Waves are used for MRI Tests in order to obtain detailed images of both the hard and the soft tissues of the body.

Treatment and Drugs for Flatfoot:

No treatment is needed for flatfeet in case the patient does not experience any pain. However, therapies have proved to be greatly useful in case of painful feet. The doctor might suggest the following therapies:

  1. Arch Supports: Over the counter arch supports can be used in order to relieve the pain associated with Flatfeet. The doctor might suggest custom designed arch supports which can be moulded as per the contours of the feet. Arch supports cannot cure Flatfeet but can reduce the pain and the symptoms drastically.
  2. Stretching Exercises: People suffering from Flatfeet also tend to have a shortened Achilles tendon. Therefore, exercises are prescribed in order to stretch this tendon.
  3. Proper Shoes: People suffering from Flatfeet need structurally supportive shoes as compared to sandals and shoes which offer minimal support.  

Surgery is not generally performed only for the purpose of correcting the feet. However, in some of the rarer cases, surgery can be performed for associated problems such as tendon tear or rupture. 

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