If you have flat feet, you’re in good company. About 25% of people in the US have this condition, which causes very low or non-existent arches in the feet.
The good news is not all cases of flat feet cause problems. In fact, for people who developed flat feet in childhood, the condition is usually painless and doesn’t cause any long-term issues.
However, suppose you have acquired flat feet, which means you develop the condition in adulthood. In that case, it can trigger gait trouble, problems with mobility, issues when standing, chronic foot pain, ongoing knee pain, and more.
Board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, and the team at New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, specialize in diagnosing and treating podiatric problems related to flat feet. One of Dr. Tauber’s favorite non-invasive therapies is custom orthotics. Here’s a closer look at the issues that flat feet cause and how orthotics can help.
What problems can flat feet cause?
You develop flat feet either in childhood when the arches don’t develop, or acquire them in adulthood. When it starts in childhood, the condition is usually inherited and less problematic.
Most of the time, adult-acquired flat feet stem from a problem with the tendon that connects the bones in the soles of your feet to the muscles in your calf (posterior tibial tendon). Problems can arise in this tendon for different reasons, including being overweight or obese, age-related issues, pregnancy, injury, diabetes, and more.
No matter the cause, when this tendon stops working correctly, it can't lift the arch of your foot into the right position. As a result, your arches fall and flatten, causing the entire sole of your foot to lie flat. This lack of support can lead to different issues, including:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Arthritis in the feet
- Arthritis in the ankles
- Posterior tibial tendonitis
- Overpronation (foot rolls inward)
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
Adult-acquired flat feet can also cause changes in the way you walk (your gait) and your alignment when walking or standing. As a result, people with the condition often develop chronic pain and arthritis in their ankles, knees, and hips.
How can custom orthotics help?
For some patients, custom orthotics provide enough support to address the problematic symptoms associated with flat feet. Unlike over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics you’ve probably seen in stores, custom orthotics provide more effective treatment for many foot issues, including flat feet.
These inserts are custom-made for you, so they fit perfectly inside your shoes. These personalized devices provide much-needed support to your feet, improving your balance and evenly distributing your weight and the pressure it places on your feet and ankles.
Dr. Tauber first performs a physical exam and creates a cast of your feet. This way, the lab that makes your custom orthotics fits the device to the exact shape of your feet so that it provides the right support where you need it most—without putting additional pressure on them.
If wearing custom orthotics and using other non-invasive treatments, like physical therapy, or switching to supportive footwear, isn’t enough to ease your discomfort, Dr. Tauber may recommend reconstructive arch surgery, which has a high success rate with few risks.
Learn how custom orthotics can help solve your flat feet problems by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry today.