Feet come in all different shapes and sizes. One specific area of the foot that tends to vary in shape and size from person to person is their arch. Your foot arch is shaped by the metatarsal and tarsal bones and supported by nearby tendons and ligaments, and it’s also instrumental in helping your foot bear stress when you walk, stand and run. Some people have unnaturally low arches or their arch collapses a bit due to natural aging as they get older, and while having flat feet isn’t the most serious foot condition, you may want to talk with your primary care doctor or a foot specialist to see if your flat feet are putting you at risk for other issues.
Unaddressed flat feet can increase your risk of other issues in the area and throughout the body, so don’t just ignore your flat feet, even if they’re not yet causing you pain or discomfort. Below, we take a closer look at some of the related conditions that can develop if you aren’t proactive about your flat feet.
Flat Feet Can Lead To These Related Problems
As we noted in the intro, flat feet is far from the most serious health issue, but it can beckon other uncomfortable conditions, so it’s helpful to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about the best ways to correct some of the muscular imbalances caused by your flat feet. Here’s a quick look at a couple conditions that untreated flat feet can lead to:
- Hip and Knee Pain – Your gait tends to be affected by a collapsing or flattened arch. Without a proper foot arch, your feet typically rotate inward a bit. This inward rotation ends up shifting how weight is dispersed down your leg, putting more pressure on certain joints like your hips and knees. Over time, this can lead to discomfort in these joints.
- Ankle Sprains – Because your arch isn’t helping to provide as much stability to the foot, and because your feet may rotate inward a bit when walking as a result of your flat feet, you can be at a heightened risk for rolling your ankle. This can lead to sprains and even fractures.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Plantar fasciitis is also more common in people with a flatter foot arch. The condition tends to develop when overstretched tendons are repeatedly exposed to stress, and a flattened arch can lead to tendon stretching and loosening.
- Achilles Tendonitis – If you have flat feet, your Achilles tendon has to work even harder to handle stress every time you walk or run. This exposure to additional strain can lead to microtearing and inflammation in the tendon, which is known as Achilles tendonitis. Left untreated, tendonitis can increase your risk of an Achilles tendon rupture.
Instead of putting yourself at risk for developing these conditions, connect with a foot specialist like Dr. McDonald. He’ll be able to take a closer look at your feet, assess your risk profile and develop a treatment plan to help protect your feet. Oftentimes treatment only involves regular foot monitoring and switching to shoes that better contour to the shape of your feet. Orthotic inserts or custom insoles may also be recommended in order to shift how pressure is applied to your foot. Finally, physical therapy can also prove helpful in strengthening supportive soft tissues in the feet to help take pressure off certain areas and to ensure your feet can handle all the stress you throw at it.
So if you have unnaturally low arches or you’ve noticed that your arch has fallen a bit as you’ve become older, consider talking with your primary care provider or a foot specialist about how you can protect your flat feet. For more information, or for help with a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.