From the moment we are born our feet are developing. When babies are born, they do not have an arch. In other words, they are born with flat feet. Babies learn to wiggle their toes, toddlers learn to walk around, and children learn to run and jump. The arches normally develop during this period of growth. Most children gain arches around two or three years of age, but in some cases they don’t. In other instances they develop normally, but something happens later in adolescence or adulthood to make them collapse. Having flat feet does not mean that you can’t run, jump, or do all the things that people with normal foot structures do every day.
Types of Flat Feet
Arches are responsible for supporting the entire weight of our bodies and for giving extra support during times of physical activity, such as running. There are two different types of flat feet: flexible and rigid. The flexible type means that when your child is standing there is no arch, but when they are physically active, it will reappear. If the foot is rigid, it means that there is never any arch present. With flexible kind, there is very little cause for concern, but the rigid type can cause pain and discomfort, so treatment is usually recommended.
Flattening Out in Adulthood
Sometimes our foot structures develop as they should, but for one reason or another they collapse in adulthood. If trauma or stress affect the posterior tibial tendon, which holds up the arches, you will end up with adult-acquired flat feet. Some reasons for this to happen include obesity, injury, hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes.
If you have diabetes you must take special care that your feet are not injured. If an injury goes unnoticed, it could be very dangerous and lead to Charcot foot (total breakdown of your foot structure). When your arches fall later in life, there is usually pain associated. The pain may get worse with activity, especially with running or intense movement. Bony spurs or calluses can also develop. Treatment is usually recommended for people with pain, and always recommended for people with diabetes.
If your feet are not painful, you will most likely not need treatment (unless you have diabetes). If you have more discomfort, there is a range of different treatment options. You can start off with the nonsurgical route and use custom-made orthotics that will help give support in the arch area. You can also try different stretching techniques that will help strengthen and elongate the Achilles tendon. There are different medications that your doctor can prescribe that can help ease your pain. In severe cases you may need to use surgery as an option. Surgery can help fix your arch and also fix any contributing problems such as a tear to the tendon.
When Should I Call a Doctor?
If you have concerns about your flat feet call Dr. Mark Gasparini at (516) 804-9038 and make an appointment at our Massapequa, NY office to get the answers you need.