It can be hard to recognise that pain in one place can be caused by damage in another part of the body, but that’s exactly what can happen for individuals suffering from flat feet. Feet aren’t naturally flat! Healthy feet have three arches: two which run from the front to the back of the foot and one which runs transversely (sideways) across the underside of the foot. When the integrity of these arches is compromised, sufferers can experience all sorts of unwanted pain and postural problems. Here we take a look at the causes of flat feet, potential complications and treatment that can make a real difference.
What causes flat feet?
In healthy feet, the arches, formed of the tarsal and metatarsal bones, are held in position by the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot. The function of the arches is to assist in optimal weight distribution during walking and standing: obviously a foot falling flat on the floor results in more force being directed upwards, through the body. In comparison, an arched foot fall helps to distribute force more beneficially, reducing upward stress on the joints and ligaments of the lower skeleton. Flat feet (or lowered arches) may be the result of genetics or develop over time due to injury, age, obesity, childbirth or unnatural strain due to injury elsewhere in the legs leading to poor gait.
What are the complications of flat feet?
Not only can flat feet cause foot pain, the effect of large amounts of force being transmitted up through the body can also, over time, create chronic pain in knees and ankles, as well as back and hip pain. Some people, particularly those who jog or run with flat feet, may end up with tiny fractures in their tibias (shin splints) which cause considerable pain.
Treatment for flat feet
Luckily, appropriate footwear that facilitates foot pronation, along with suitable exercises to improve foot strength, can help. Corrective gait exercises, treatment of underlying conditions and measures to address pain and inflammation in the foot can also be of benefit.
Successful treatment for flat feet could make a real difference to pain elsewhere. Get in touch to find out more.