If your feet have been bothering you and you’re worried you might develop flat feet, you have a good reason. Approximately one in four Americans develop flat feet, a condition that can cause issues with mobility, problems standing, foot pain, knee pain, and more.
At New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, puts her expertise to work for men, women, and children diagnosed with or worried about flat feet. She also understands that often, prevention is the best medicine.
Keep reading to learn more about flat feet and whether you can prevent this condition.
You’re diagnosed with flat feet, or pes planus, when the arches in feet don’t exist or are extremely low. The development of the condition can begin either in childhood, when the arch of your foot develops or in adulthood, which is called acquired flat feet.
People who develop flat feet in childhood inherit the condition from a parent. With adult-acquired flat feet, the condition usually begins when the posterior tibial tendon, the tendon that goes from your calf muscle to the bones at the sole of your foot, deteriorates or gets inflamed.
When this tendon doesn’t work properly, it can’t lift your arches to a healthy position. This causes your arches to “fall” or flatten, leading most or all of the sole of your foot resting on the ground. While adult-acquired flat feet can trigger problematic issues, people who inherit the condition generally don’t have trouble as they learn to walk and function without arches.
To understand why flat feet cause problems, you need to understand the role the arches in your feet play. Not only do your arches help keep your feet healthy, but they also affect the health of other joints and bones in your body.
This is because your arches help distribute your weight evenly across your feet and through your legs. They also determine how you walk (your gait) and provide crucial shock absorption when you walk, run, jump, or otherwise experience impact with the ground through your feet.
When your arches fall, and you develop flat feet, your body is less supported from your feet up. This can lead to changes in the way you walk and cause significant foot issues, including:
What’s more? Because flat feet can also change your gait and the way your body aligns when you stand, walk, or move, the condition also leads to an increased risk of pain in your hips, knees, and ankles and the development of arthritis in these joints.
If you grew up with flat feet, chances are you inherited the condition. In this case, there’s nothing that can reverse or prevent the condition. But if you’re worried about developing flat feet in adulthood, or if you’ve noticed your arches have started to fall and want to prevent them from dropping further, there are some things you can do.
Adult-acquired flat feet can develop for different reasons, including aging, diabetes, pregnancy, injury, and lifestyle choices. You can work to prevent flat feet by practicing good foot care, such as wearing supportive shoes and scheduling regular visits to a podiatrist like Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry.
Making lifestyle changes is one of the best things you can do to prevent flat feet from developing or worsening. Being overweight is one of the leading causes of flat feet as the extra pounds put pressure on the small bones and tendons in your feet. Losing even a few pounds can ease some of the pressure and protect your feet.
Before beginning treatment for flat feet, it’s critical to understand the root cause of your condition. At New Canaan Podiatry, Dr. Tauber reviews your medical and family histories, physically examines your feet, and orders any imaging tests necessary to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
Most patients respond well to conservative treatments, such as supportive footwear, physical therapy, and custom orthotics. If your symptoms cause you extreme discomfort or if your condition is severe, you may be a candidate for reconstructive surgery.
While surgery for flat feet may sound scary, the good news is that research shows the procedure carries a high success rate with few risks. Dr. Tauber always discusses the benefits and risks of any procedure and takes time to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Want to learn more about flat feet and how to prevent the condition or stop it from getting worse? Contact Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry and book an appointment today. You can also use the chatbox on our website now!