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Foot Defense

Acor's Foot Defense

Flat Feet

What is the condition described as flat feet or a low arch?

If you have flat feet, the arch on the inside of your feet is flattened. Flat feet or low arches usually doesn't cause a problem. However, flat feet can contribute to problems in your feet, ankles and knees. Simple corrective devices, such as low arch orthotics, are available to help prevent complications of flat feet.

Signs and symptoms of flat feet

With flat feet, you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • A flat look to one or both of your feet
  • Uneven shoe wear and collapse of your shoe toward the inside of your flat foot
  • Lower leg pain or weakness
  • Pain on the inside of your ankle
  • Swelling along the inside of your ankle
  • Foot pain

Causes of Flat Feet

Your feet are highly specialized structures. Each foot is made up of 26 bones held together by 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The intricate alignment of these structures results in the formation of your arches.

As you walk, these springy, elastic arches help distribute your body weight across your feet and legs. Your arches also play an integral role in how you walk. They act as rigid levers for proper mobility, but they must also be resilient and flexible to adapt to various surfaces.

Not all feet are the same

Flat feet are normal in infants and toddlers because the foot's arch hasn't yet developed. Most people's arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems.

Lax ligaments can cause flat feet, as can conditions present at birth (congenital) that affect the foot.

Arches can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the posterior tibial tendon, which runs along the inside of your ankle, from above your ankle to your arch. The posterior tibial tendon is the main support structure for the arch. An overload to this tendon can cause inflammation of the tendon (tendonitis) and even tearing of the tendon. Once the tendon is damaged the foot's arch loses support and can flatten.

You may lose support in your arches due to:

  • Ongoing stresses in your feet. One of these stresses may be long-term wearing of high heels, which can affect your Achilles tendon and change the mechanics of your ankles. Compensation by the posterior tibial tendon may eventually cause it to break down and your arches to fall.
  • Obesity
  • Traumatic injury to your foot or ankle
  • Pain on the inside of your ankle
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes

Complications of Flat Feet

Flat feet may contribute to or worsen other foot problems, including:

  • Inflammation and pain in the ligaments in the soles of your feet (plantar fasciitis)
  • Achilles tendonitis and posterior tibial tendinitis
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures in your lower leg
  • Bunions
  • Calluses
  • Because flat feet can affect your body's alignment, the condition may also lead to pain in your ankles, knees and hips.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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