What does it mean to have flat feet?
It’s all about the arch. First, you have to understand that feet normally have an arch. That’s the inside of the middle of your foot (the left side of your right foot; the right side of your left foot). Generally, that part of your foot curves upward, creating an arch.
Not all arches are created equal. Some arches are very high – which can create certain problems that podiatrists Dr. Craig B. Frey and Dr. Megan L. Oltmann take care of often at our Cuyahoga County podiatry office. Some barely form a curve at all. Having flat feet means that you’ve got low arches or no arch at all.
Some people are born with flat feet. In fact, most babies are born with them. You’ll be able to detect normal arch development somewhere between 2 and 5 years old.
Some babies don’t outgrow flat feet. And that may be okay. In some cases, having pediatric flatfoot doesn’t cause problems at all. In others, a child will develop pain, tenderness, cramping, difficulty or awkwardness when they walk.
Flat feet can develop later in life. Arches can collapse over time, so we do see flat feet develop in some older patients. Arthritis, obesity, and injury can also cause arches to flatten.
Flat feet can be flexible. “Flexible” flatfoot is the most common type. That’s when you can see an arch – until the person stands up. When you put weight on flexible flat feet, the arches disappear. Dr. Frey and Dr. Oltmann can treat flexible flatfoot with conservative methods like physical therapy, stretching exercises, custom orthotics, and changes in footwear.
Flat feet can be rigid. “Rigid” flatfoot may require foot surgery to relieve symptoms and improve any structural defects that affect the function of your feet.
Not all flat feet need treatment. But if your feet are causing you pain, consider your arches. Then get our professional opinion here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland in Solon, Ohio. Call us at (440) 903-1041 or make an appointment online.