Orthopaedic surgeon – Aleksas Makulavicius
A normal foot has its own particular shape. Foot bones are supported by ligaments and muscles and they have a so called vault. Flat feet (also called pes planus or fallen arches) are a foot deformation with a droopy longitudinal or transverse vault. It is innate in approximately 5% of all cases and gained in 95%. Various authors say that approximately one third of all the people have varying degrees of a flat foot. Flat foot development can be influenced by weak calf or foot muscles, standing or walking for a long time, unsuitable footwear, obesity and various diseases, such as rickets, arthritis or foot bones injuries. A significant proportion of flat foot patients have it as an asymptomatic and slowly progressing disease. However some patients have a flat foot deformation with noticeable symptoms, when the disease is rapidly progressing.
There could be various symptoms which vary depending on the stage of the disease and the pace of development. You might have a flat foot if you notice at least one of the following symptoms: you have intensive pain in the inner or outer side of the foot, sometimes even on the front surface of the shank; the foot, especially when you are standing, seems a bit wider compared to the other one, the inside vault is flattened, flatter pad almost completely touches the floor, the outer edge of the foot is a bit uplifting, the inner ankle is protruding, your gait is tardy, the toes are distorted, you have ingrown foot nails or your legs get easily tired.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis an X-ray scan is needed. Also a consultation with orthopaedist – traumatologist is required.
In order to prevent the development of a flat foot you should keep an eye on the foot and if development is suspected it is strongly advised to see an orthopaedist.
It is important to choose an appropriate footwear. People who are required to work in a standing position are advised to hold their feet higher when possible, have breaks from time to time, it is useful to walk barefoot on the sand, walk on tiptoes, jump into the distance and height, jog, swim, ride a bike with bare feet, wear the right size and a bit looser footwear, don’t wear heels higher than 3-4 cm.
Flat feet treatment is a long procedure and it’s very individual. Depending on the stage of the flat foot and the degree of deformation conservative or surgical treatment is required. In the early stages baths, massages, therapeutic exercises, special inserts-insoles, special shoes and other orthopaedic products could help. However if the previous methods are not effective a surgery is needed.