Pes Planus Feet (Flat Feet)
We are all born with Pes Planus feet or flat feet, as the arches of the feet only start to develop around ages three to five. Most of us will go on to develop upward curved arches on the underside of the feet but about 20-30% of the population would not.
What is Flat Feet?
Flat feet, as the name suggests, is a condition where the sole of the foot touches the floor completely or almost completely when in a standing position. This is due to fallen arches. It can occur in just one or both feet. A foot with normal arch can provide balance, springiness, flexibility and help to absorb and dissipate most of the shock when landing on your foot. The weight of the body can also be evenly distributed around the entire foot with a normal arch. However, with a flat foot, the propensity to overstrain some parts of the foot on a consistent basis is much higher.
People with flat feet may or may not have any symptoms or feel any difference from someone with normal arches. Those who have problems with flat feet could experience heel, arch and ankles pain that worsen with physical activity. Swelling on the inside of the ankle is another likely symptom. In some cases, the pain experienced can extend to the calf, knee, hip and back. Children with flat foot may complain of foot discomfort or leg aches.
In addition, as a result of the flat feet, other foot issues may arise. Flat feet may cause excessive strain to the plantar fascia tissue that supports the arch, leading to plantar fasciitis eventually. It may also bring about the formation of bunion and hammer toes, among others.
There are several common causes of flat feet. They include:
- Hereditary – It can run in families
- Weak Arch – The arch falls when in a standing position
- Tibialis Posterior – The main tendon supporting the arch is inflamed or ruptured
- Nervous System or Muscle diseases
- Injury of the foot or ankle
For those without any symptoms or pain, treatment is generally not required. However, a pair of well fitting shoes with good arch support would go a long way to help prevent some of the foot problems that can arise years later.
For those already suffering some discomfort or pain, the most common treatment starts with supportive well-fitted shoes that provide more space and comfort while having good arch support. Orthotics insoles also provide very good support for the arch and help in balancing the foot to reduce excessive pounding.
Some people will find walking barefooted to be beneficial. Rest would be helpful, if excessive exercise or running has worsened the symptoms. Losing extra weight certainly helps the overweight to ease some pain.
Surgery is rather rare for Pes Planus feet. They are usually performed only when the damage is severe, such as for fusing bones, removing bone spurs, bone grafting and tendon enhancement.