Flat Foot Problems – Symptoms And Treatment

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What Is Flat Foot?

The common condition known as flat foot is where one or both feet does not have a fully formed arch.

There are four arches of the feet but it is the medial longitudinal arch or inner arch that is affected. This is the main arch of the foot and it forms between the base of the heel bone (Calcanium) and the head of the first metatarsal.

The ligament involved is suspended by the talus, navicular and three cuneiform bones, like a string on a bow.

Causes Of A Flat Foot

Many people suffer with low arches or a lack of any formed arch at all, may be very painful and this may be due to a number of conditions:

  • Developmental
  • Hereditary
  • Ruptured Tendon or Ligament
  • Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida

If flat-footedness has been experienced by any other member of your family, then the condition may be hereditary. Depending on your age and severity of the condition a different approach to insoles supports may be necessary.

If the foot does not develop correctly this can also lead to an abnormal walking position, but the chances are, it will be more correctable if the patient is younger than the condition is picked up sooner rather than later.

Other conditions such as Spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy will result in flat-foot, as can a ruptured tendon or ligament causing a dysfunction of the gait cycle and in these cases surgery may be the only option.

Because flat-footed people are walking unnaturally on this part of the foot they may develop calluses or corners which can become painful. They will also wear out their shoes quite quickly if the correct arch supports are not fitted. This may also lead to other painful problems with the ankle, knee or hip, as the alignment of the lower limb is not as it should be.

How To Treat A Flat Foot With Insoles

There are several ways to treat flatfoot but it is probably better to get professional advice from your Chiropodist / Podiatrist before you embark on self treatment, particularly if you have secondary lesions such as corns, because these can ulcerate and become infected.

Sufferers will generally need to buy high quality insoles known as orthotics made from a range of materials which fit inside the shoe and support the arch in a specific way. There are off the shelf products from your local pharmacy to do this but it is often better to get a custom orthotic made.

The material the orthotic is made from is also important as to whether it needs to be softer as not to cause pressure from the collapsing arch to one that is harder, providing more support. This will depend on the amount of dropped arch you are experiencing as to if an arch supporting insole will be beneficial as opposed to a gel insole.

This may be more expensive but if it is an adaptable orthotic, it can be adjusted by 'posting' as the arch is lifted over time.

More About Arch Pain

If you're experiencing inflammation or a burning sensation in the arch at night then you probably have some degree of arch pain.

This is where the plantar fascia ligament which forms the arch becomes inflamed and is not to be confused with plantar fasciitis, which is a micro tear of the ligament at the heel. In both cases it is due to an over stretching of the ligament from trauma.

The best treatment for this kind of arch pain is to use an orthotic to remove the pressure from the arch and provide support to correct the positioning of the foot and consequent posture of the body.

Even if you do not suffer with flat-footedness or arch pain it may be a good idea to use an off-the-shelf arch support or insole to prevent the condition from occurring. If you are an athlete or runner or your work requires that you are standing for long periods of time you will find this kind of arch support will be very beneficial.