Flat Feet (Pes Planus)
What is Pes Planus (Flat feet)?
Pes planus, or commonly known as flat feet, is a relatively common condition. This common foot posture can be defined by the loss of the major arch of our foot, resulting in the foot contacting, or nearly contacting the ground.
Flat foot in itself is not a diagnosis. However, because it increases the risk of developing many lower limb conditions, it is not surprising that foot, ankle and lower limb pain has been generally diagnosed as “flat feet”, “over-pronation” or “hyperpronation”.
Pes planus can be classified as:
- Flexible or Rigid
- Developmental, Congenital or Acquired
Podiatrists are specifically trained to conduct a full assessment of your lower limb and feet, to provide you an accurate diagnosis of your current foot condition, and the possible treatment options available. Flat feet could very simply be the way that your feet are made, present from birth. Just as we inherit certain characteristics from our parents, flat feet could be hereditary. However, depending on the situation, flat feet can also be acquired in adulthood. Some of the conditions that may contribute to the development of flat feet include:
- Generalised hypermobility, causing ligamentous laxity
- Damaged, inflamed or even torn tendons or ligaments
- Gradual damage and stretch to the Tibialis Posterior Tendon
- Trauma to skeletal structure of the foot
- Conditions (such as arthritis)
- Some conditions affecting nerves (e.g Cerebral Palsy)
What will I experience?
Individuals with flat feet may not necessarily experience any pain or symptoms. Others may experience varying degrees of symptoms depending on the severity of the flat foot, and its contributing external factors.
The main complication of flat feet is that they contribute to many other pathologies and pain that we experience in our feet, such as muscle pains, joint pains, and inflammation of tendons due to overuse.
A flat foot – due to its structure – places several important structures of your foot at increased levels of strain. Some conditions that are often seen are Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendinopathy, and Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction. Alterations to walking or gait patterns could also potentially result in the formation of bunions, painful calluses, blisters, and toe deformities.
If the flat feet do cause symptoms, these may include:
- Foot pain: This could be anywhere on the foot, depending on the part affected and its associated or attached tendons or ligaments.
- Ankle pain – could be the entire ankle or just certain portions
- Arch pain
- Pain further up the lower limb due to altered placement of the foot on the ground.
- Development of painful calluses due to increased pressure
- Development of other foot deformities, such as bunions or clawed/hammer toes
How can we help you?
Treatment for flat feet varies on the types of symptoms presented, and the goals of the individual. This is something that your Podiatrist can work with you on, and achieve your goals. Treatments are broadly divided into surgical or conservative methods. At The Rehab Centre, we specialise in conservative methods for treating flat feet.
Typically, flat feet can be addressed by several treatment methods:
- Customised Foot Orthotic Insoles – This is a known treatment modality to address flat feet. Customised insoles need to be prescribed by an appropriate professional to address specific foot pathologies. Our Podiatrist will take a complete and detailed biomechanical assessment and history, including your activity levels, to tailor a pair of orthotics specifically for your foot type and pathology.
- Orthotic devices and ankle braces – depending on the severity of your condition, ankle braces such as an ankle foot orthotic (AFO) may be used to stabilise the foot and ankle as one. They can also be useful if your flat foot is related to issues with the nervous system, or severe muscle weakness. As there are various types of AFOs designed to achieve different outcomes, your Podiatrist will be able to advise if you are suitable depending on your specific condition.
- Comprehensive footwear assessment and advice – Footwear plays a crucial key to stabilising your lower limb. Supportive and well-fitting footwear would help to reduce symptoms and discomfort. We will be able to advise you comprehensively on the footwear that would help your condition.