Can You Treat Flat Feet?

Can You Treat Flat Feet?

When patients come in with foot or leg pain, and they have flat feet, they often want to know if the two are related. Can flat feet be the cause of foot pain? More than this, they want to know what can be done to treat their flat feet and whether it’s possible to develop an arch – even in adulthood. 

With flat feet linked to an increased likelihood of foot problems, today our podiatrists have shared what you should know about treating flat feet.

Is Having Flat Feet A Bad Thing?

No, having flat feet is not inherently bad. It also doesn’t mean that you’re definitely going to develop pain or problems. Just like how having longer or shorter fingers is not bad or good – it just is. When it comes to flat feet, however, this foot type can increase your risk of developing foot pain and problems.

This is because having flat feet makes the muscles and tissues that support your feet work harder as your feet roll down closer to the ground. The harder your body works, the more likely you are to overuse a tendon or ligament, especially when you work harder step after step, day after day. Overuse then leads to pain and injury.

On the other end of the spectrum, having feet that have higher arches may also bring with them their own set or injury risks and vulnerabilities. While we wouldn’t classify having flat feet as a bad thing on it’s own, when flat feet are paired with foot pain, then yes, they may need to be managed and cared for in order to stop the pain and let the injury heal. 

Why Are My Feet Flat?

Firstly, it’s not because of anything you did (or didn’t do) in your early years. It’s likely that your flat feet are related to your genetics, which influence the shape and structure of the bones in your feet, your ligaments and tissues, and other factors that all work together to determine whether you have a flat foot, a neutral (average) foot, or a high-arched foot.

With this said, flat feet aren’t always genetic. They may also be linked to conditions like Ehlers Danlos syndrome, or if they develop in adulthood, may be linked to problems like arthritis, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction or Charcot foot. If you’re pregnant, your feet may temporarily flatten due to a hormone called Relaxin circulating through your system, which loosens connective tissues in preparation for childbirth.

Is My Foot Or Leg Pain Because My Feet Are Flat?

It may be, yes. Although that’s like asking whether your stomach ache is from the lunch you ate. Could it be the cause? Yes, absolutely. Could it be just one part of the problem where you ate an orange and it irritated a stomach ulcer you had? Also yes. Could it be completely unrelated? Yes again.

As identifying the cause of foot pain is integral to having the right treatment, there shouldn’t be any guesswork as to whether your flat feet are involved. An assessment with your podiatrist will quickly reveal the likely causes of your pain or injury, including whether flat feet are likely to have played a role.

Can Flat Feet Be Treated?

Yes and no. While no treatment can give you arches where there never were any, supporting your flat feet and keeping them in an ‘arched’ position using foot orthotics is often an essential part of treating an injury where flat feet are the cause. 

Continuing to wear these orthotics after you’re pain-free also means that your feet maintain an arched shape whenever you’re in them, so you can help prevent the same injury, and other pains, from recurring in the future.

Worried About Your Flat Feet?

There’s no need to be. Where flat feet are causing pain and problems, having formal treatment by your podiatrist can help relieve the pain and manage any problems. If you’re not currently experiencing any foot pain but know you have flat feet, you shouldn’t worry, either. There is no guarantee that you will develop foot pain, and if you do, it can be managed. 

For those that want to proactively reduce their risk of foot pain and improve their comfort on their feet, we can prescribe orthotics to replace the insoles your work shoes, sneakers and other shoes – so that every time you take a step in them, your feet are supported and your muscles aren’t being overused.

Book an appointment with our experienced, qualified podiatrists by calling 03 972 2927.

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