The arch of your foot has a tough job: It needs to be strong, yet flexible, as it distributes your weight evenly across your feet and up your legs and gives you a spring in your step. If your arches are too high, too low, or nonexistent, it triggers a ripple effect of misalignment and malfunctions.
Many people live with flat feet with no problem at all, but when problems do arise, it’s best to seek a professional analysis and treatment from an experienced team like Dr. Dan Preece and Dr. Darren Groberg, a branch of Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists in Salt Lake City, Utah. We evaluate your arches and determine if they’re interfering with your gait or with the joints in your legs, hips, and back.
Here are some of the most common complications caused by flat feet.
One of the first symptoms to alert you that you may have fallen arches is pain. Achy feet and ankles that tend to swell, especially after standing or walking for long periods of time, are classic signs of flat feet. But they could also point to other conditions, so it’s best to seek a professional diagnosis.
Often, simple measures can resolve your flat feet pain, like custom-made orthotics you wear inside your shoes to compensate for your fallen arches. But left untreated, your flat feet can lead to other health problems.
The ligament that runs from the back of your heel and across the length of the bottom of your foot, called your plantar fascia, is susceptible to inflammation, a condition called plantar fasciitis. Characterized by heel pain that seems to be worse in the morning as you take your first steps of the day, plantar fasciitis often begins with flat feet.
Flat feet cause your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf to your heel, to work extra hard every time you walk or run. That additional stress can cause micro tears and inflammation of the tendon, a condition called Achilles tendonitis.
To keep it from progressing to its more advanced form, Achilles tendonosis, it’s best to rest and ice it and use anti-inflammatory drugs. We may also recommend a splint or other orthotic device to help stabilize it as it heals.
A good, strong arch gives your foot, ankle, and the rest of your body a stable, firm foundation. When your arch is flat, you lose significant stability, and your joints tend to take the brunt of the abuse. Overworked joints are highly susceptible to arthritis, as the protective cartilage wears away and allows your bones to rub against one another.
Shoes are designed to accommodate the human foot with normal arch height. If you have flat feet, your shoes rub you in all the wrong places and lead to calluses and corns. Over time, you may also develop a bunion, a deformity of the joint at the base of your big toe, or a hammertoe, an abnormal contraction of your toe joint.
Naturally, flat feet are foot problems in and of themselves, but they also lead to other foot complications. The tendon that forms a normal foot arch is technically called your posterior tibial tendon, and whether you have flat feet or not, if it becomes inflamed, you get posterior tibial tendonitis, and along with it, pain and instability.
And if your feet pronate (turn in) because you have no arch support, it overstretches your plantar fascia and leads to a buildup of calcium deposits and abnormal bone growth called a heel spur.
Your feet and ankles have a huge responsibility in that they uphold the weight of your entire body. That means that any small problem with your feet automatically throws everything out of alignment and sets the stage for injuries.
The first in line are your legs. Flat feet fail to evenly distribute your weight, which causes undue stress on your leg muscles, bones, and tendons resulting in shin splints and stress fractures.
If you’re experiencing any of these complications of flat feet, Dr. Preece or Dr. Groberg can treat your condition, help you manage your flat feet, and get you mobile and pain free again. Contact us at 801-285-6332 or request an appointment online to find out how to handle your flat feet.