Do you have flat feet? You can find out by wetting your feet and standing on a concrete sidewalk or other surface that will show a footprint. If you can see the shape of your whole foot, then you have flat feet.
Your foot’s arch has a job to absorb force during weight-bearing activities before the impact reaches the legs. When the foot’s tendons pull together properly, the foot will show a moderate arch.
However, in those with flat feet, the arch collapses so the entire sole of the foot is in contact with the ground. This condition, also called fallen arches, can be painful and may also lead to knee and ankle problems because of leg misalignment.
Causes and Symptoms of Flat Feet
Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM, board-certified podiatrist, explains that some people are born with flat feet and that the condition tends to run in families.
Other causes include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Damaged tendons
- Nerve problems
- Foot trauma like broken bones
Weakened tendons due to the wear and tear of aging can cause flat feet, as can pregnancy and obesity.
It’s possible that you have flat feet with no symptoms. However, many with this condition experience:
- Pain and aches in the arches and heels
- Difficulty standing on the toes
- Feet that tire easily
- Hip, back and leg pain
- Swollen soles of the feet
A Podiatrist Should Evaluate Your Flat Feet
Contact our office at 773-561-8100 or visit our website for an evaluation appointment. We will review your medical history for injury or illness, and assess your gait and muscle strength. We may order more tests like an x-ray, ultrasound or MRI.
If you are not in any pain, you should be able to continue your normal activities. However, it’s best not to run on hard surfaces or participate in high-impact sports.
To reduce pain and any other symptoms from flat feet that may limit your activities, we will discuss:
- Rest and ice
- Stretching exercises
- Physical therapy
- Custom orthotics to support the arch
- Anti-inflammatory medication
We may recommend surgery to correct the position of your foot if the pain or damage is severe. Many surgeries are performed right here in our office.
Special Considerations for Children with Flat Feet
It’s common for infant feet to be flat, with arches beginning to be formed by age 2 or 3. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your child’s feet as he or she grows. Watch for any changes in the child’s gait like limping or walking clumsily, or excessive fatigue or pain during long walks.
Bring your child in to our Chicago office for an examination if there is any pain or if you suspect that your child’s feet arches are not developing normally. Dr. Alexopolous specializes in pediatric podiatry and recommends early diagnosis and treatment.