If you have flat feet, it means that the area of your foot that typically contains an arch is flattened, causing the sole of your foot to touch the floor while walking. Although many people with flat feet do not experience any pain, some individuals find that the condition causes pain in the arch and heel and that it is difficult to complete certain movement, such as tiptoeing. If you suffer from flat feet, you might also notice that your feet get tired easily. Over time, flat feet can cause problems in your ankles and knees and change the alignment in your legs.
What causes flat feet?
Children naturally have flat feet until later in life, when the arches develop naturally. If your arches never developed during late childhood, then your feet are naturally flat. You can have arches in your feet that become flat as a result of age or following an injury that affects your tendons. You are at increased risk for the condition if you have rheumatoid arthritis, are pregnant, or are obese.
How do I know if my feet are flat?
If you are unsure whether or not your feet are flat, try the wet foot test. After a shower or dip in the pool, walk barefoot across a solid surface and then take a look at your prints. If you can see the outline and print of your entire foot with no gap or variation, you might have flat feet. Your orthopedic surgeon can examine your feet and check the wear patterns on your shoes for a better idea. In some cases, your doctor might recommend an X-ray or another imaging test to confirm that your arches are underdeveloped or nonexistent.
Will surgery help?
Surgery is not always necessary for flat feet. Your doctor might only want to perform the procedure if you are in severe pain or if the condition affects your quality of life. Often, a surgery is only necessary if you have a tendon that is in need of repair, in which case fixing the tendon can bring more support to your foot and relieve your pain considerably. Additionally, your doctor might recommend the use of special shoes or arch supports to keep you comfortable and to relieve your pain instead.