Are Flat Feet a Health Issue?

Of the many conditions that can affect your feet or ankles, flat feet are among the more common. According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, flat fee affect 8% of adults over the age of 21, or 18 million people. Another 8 million adults, representing 4% of the population, develop fallen arches, resulting in flat feet. For many, flat feet aren’t a terribly serious health concern, but for others, the condition can lead to pain and discomfort that affect not only their feet, but also other parts of their bodies. 

At our practice, Dr. Errol Gindi has extensive experience helping our patients in Valley Stream, New York, overcome the myriad problems that can stem from flat feet. If you have flat feet and you’re experiencing pain, or you’re worried about complications developing because of the issue, here’s what you need to know.

Getting to the bottom of flat feet

The arches in your feet play an important role in providing support and shock absorption for not only your feet, but also your entire body. When you’re born, you naturally have flat feet; your arches usually develop as you become mobile. In some cases, the arches never quite form, leaving you with feet that lie flat on the floor. 

In most cases, this condition doesn’t lead to major issues, but you can develop problems because of the pronation this causes. Pronation describes a condition in which your ankles roll inward because of a lack of support, which, in moderate to severe cases, can cause joint alignment problems along your lower extremities and into your back.

The more problematic form of flat feet occurs when your arches collapse because of a problem in your posterior tibial tendon. This small tendon attaches your calf muscles to the bones on the inside of your foot and provides support and stability in your arches.

Over time, repeated stresses can weaken the tendon, causing it to tear and lose its grip on your arches, leading to flat feet. A posterior tibial tendon dysfunction can also occur due to an acute injury that damages this connective tissue.

When flat feet become problematic

If your arches never developed, leaving you with flat feet, you’ve likely compensated for the condition without too much trouble. If, however, you’re experiencing unexplained and nagging pain in your ankles, knees, hips, or low back, you may want to have us investigate whether your flat feet play a role.

If your arches have fallen during adulthood, which is called adult-acquired flatfoot, and you’re left with pain and inflammation in your ankles and feet, the issue becomes a significant health concern. Also called tibialis posterior tendonitis, this condition can not only lead to limited mobility, it can also pave the way to bigger problems as the compromised tendon may be at greater risk for more serious damage.

Tackling flat feet

Whether flat feet are causing localized inflammation and pain in your feet and ankles or joint problems in your lower extremities, the good news is that we have several solutions.

Typically, we prefer to start conservatively with custom orthotics, taping, and physical therapy, as well as anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments not only address your immediate discomfort, but they can also slow the progression of your flat feet. A few lifestyle changes, like shedding excess weight, can also go a long way toward remedying the problem.

If these conservative treatments fail to bring relief, we may try corticosteroid injections. In extreme cases, we may recommend a surgical solution. Rest assured, it’s very rare that surgery is required for flat feet, and most of our patients respond very well to the less aggressive treatments.

If you’re struggling with flat feet, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 516-200-4285, or use our convenient online scheduling feature to set up an appointment.

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