Arches and Aches

Flatfoot often becomes a serious problem if neglected in the initial stages. Here’s how to identify the symptoms and apply the right corrective measures

Flatfoot or “fallen arches” is a medical condition that affects the arches of the human feet, causing them to fall flat. It occurs in about 20 per cent of the world’s population. “Flatfoot, or pes planus, as it is medically called, refers to the loss of the normal arch in either or both feet. In infants it is common for the baby fat between the foot bones to cause the foot arches to fall flat. At first, all babies’ feet look flat, because the arch hasn’t formed yet. Arches should form by the time your child is 3 years of age and develop by the time he or she is 7 or 10 years old.

Wear and tear

In a lot of cases flatfoot develops due to ill-treatment of the feet. Muscles wear out due to ageing, sports injuries, standing or walking for prolonged periods of time on high heels or in shoes without proper support.

Weight and age are big factors. There are multiple causes of flatfoot, including trauma or injury, inflammatory arthritis and chronic wear and tear, often augmented by an increase in weight and age. The main injury occurs to a tendon on the inside of the ankle called the ‘posterior tibial’ tendon that supports the arch. As this tendon tears or weakens, the arch collapses, the heel tilts and the foot turns out.

One of the signs of flat feet in children is when they begin to complain of pain in their calf muscles or feet. If parents notice their child walking oddly, on the outer edges of the feet, or limping during long walks with pain around the area of the foot, they should get it checked.

In severe cases of childhood flatfoot, a ‘knock knee’ deformity may develop. If the child complains of foot, heel or ankle pain, you should visit the specialist who will take foot X-rays in a standing position to check joints and feet bones.

Pain on the inside of the ankle or the arch or a decreased ability to walk or run due to aching feet is often the first sign of a flatfoot developing

It is not just the feet that hurt. Flatfoot affects other parts of the body too. Flat feet can affect the knees, hips and back. The arch collapsing inwards places stress on the knee, which may rotate the hip and cause back pain. Avoid high heels and flat shoes with no support, such as ballet flats and jandals.

Experts recommend that children run or walk barefoot on rugged terrain such as sand or rocks.

If the child has flatfoot symptoms, an arch support can be placed inside the shoe to correct it.

In case of severe collapse, additional arch support with an orthotic insert may be required.

If you have any questions, or feel that you need some expert advice, contact The Podiatrist.


About Your feet and podiatry with Caron Orelowitz | Registered Podiatrist - Auckland

Caron Orelowitz was born in Johannesburg and emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. She studied Podiatry at The Witwatersrand Technikon and was in private practice in South Africa for a few years, before setting off to ‘the other side of the world’. Auckland Podiatry. Since 1998 she has been helping people of all ages who have problems with their feet, from the elderly, to sports people, and those who just want some TLC for the feet. At present she has 5 practices (with a satellite Diabetes Practice out West Auckland), owns a children’s shoe shop (Scooters in Remuera), and tries to fit in some exercise when time permits. Caron is an active member of Podiatry New Zealand (NZ), and holds the position of Treasurer for the Auckland Branch, as well as representing the Northern Region on the Executive Council. She is registered under HPCAA (Health Practitioner Competency Assurance Act), and is often seen attending (and organizing) Seminars and workshops. Caron has a special interest in Paediatrics and can often be seen on the floor showing children some exercises. ACC registered Discounts for Super Gold Card Holders, members of Grey Power and Green Prescription participants.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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