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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Flat Feet (Pes Planus)

flat-feet-arch

What is Flat Feet?

Flat Feet (Pes Planus) is a postural deformity, where the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. Most people have a gap under the arch of their foot when they are in standing position. The arch is the inner part of the foot, which is slightly raised off the ground. However people with flat feet, either have a very low arch or none at all, meaning the entire soles of your feet touch the floor when you stand up. A person who has flat feet may roll over to the inner side when they are standing or walking, resulting in the feet pointing outwards. This condition is common, usually painless and can occur when arches don’t develop during childhood. Flat feet can also develop after an injury or from wear-and-tear stresses of age.

 

Signs and symptoms

Most people have no signs or symptoms associated with flat feet, however some people with the condition experience pain in their foot, particularly in the heel area and swelling can also occur. Your shoes may also wear unevenly.

Some common signs and symptoms that can occur include pain in the:

  • Ankle (inner side)
  • Foot in general
  • Arch of the foot
  • Calf
  • Knee
  • Hip
  • Back
  • General lower leg area

In infants and toddlers, a flat foot is normal as the foot’s arch has not developed yet. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, however some people never develop arches. If your child has foot pain though, go visit a podiatrist.

 

Causes:

Some causes of flat feet can include:

  • Family history – fallen arches can run in families
  • Weak arch – the arch of the foot may be there when no weight is placed on it, however as soon as the person stands up, the foot flattens onto the ground
  • Injury
  • Ruptured tendon
  • Pregnancy
  • Nervous system or muscle diseases- such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy
  • Tarsal Coalition – bones of the foot fuse together in an unusual way, resulting in flat feet.
  • Diabetes
  • Age and wear-and-tear

 

Risk Factors:

Factors that can increase your risk of flat feet include:

  • Obesity
  • Injury to your foot or ankle
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Aging
  • Diabetes

 

If your flat feet are causing you pain go see your podiatrist. Your podiatrist may suggest you need arch supports (orthotics) or supportive shoes to help with your flat feet.

Orthotics

What are Orthotics: Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts crafted to meet the specific needs of a particular individual, that are prescribed by a podiatrist after an examination and diagnosis of the feet. Orthotics are designed to accommodate or correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern.

How do orthotics work?

Orthotics make standing, walking and running more comfortable and efficient by altering the angles at which the foot strikes the ground. The orthotics that are placed inside your shoes can absorb shock, improve balance and take pressure of sore spots.

Common foot and lower limb problems:

Some of the common foot and lower limb problems that can be successfully treated in the long term with orthotics include:

  • Corns and callouses
  • Foot ulcerations
  • Tendonitis
  • Recurrent Ankle Sprains
  • Recurrent stress fractures of foot and leg bones
  • Heel Pain
  • Front-of-knee pain (patellofemoral syndrome)
  • Some hip and low back pains

Various types of orthotics can include:

  • Customised kinetic orthotics – Offers all of the features below including postural adjustment
  • Prefabricated orthotics – These can be customised by a podiatrist to provide relief for a specific problem
  • Cushioning orthotics – Gives extra shock absorption to the foot
  • Pressure relief orthotics – Removes pressure spots by apportioning the person’s body weight across the sole of the foot.

When prescribing orthotics, your podiatrist will consider various factors, including:

  • existing foot problems (such as corns and calluses)
  • foot structure and function
  • biomechanical considerations, including posture and walking pattern
  • type of footwear commonly worn
  • occupation (such as whether your job involves standing up for long periods of time)
  • Lifestyle factors (such as preferred sports).

If orthotics are considered necessary, an understanding of your foot function will be required. This may be done by the podiatrist examining your foot, including the range of motion of your foot joints, the strength of the muscles in your feet, positon of the bones in your feet when you stand, and your walking pattern. Your walking pattern will be assessed in detail either on a flat surface, a treadmill or by repeating an activity that triggers your pain.

Long-term treatment with orthotics

Other therapies will usually be prescribed by the podiatrist along with the orthotics. These may include stretching and strengthening exercises to improve your posture and alignment.

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