Flat Foot

What are flat feet?

Flat feet are a common disorder in babies and young children due to the softness of the foot tissues that hold the joints together. The internal longitudinal plantar arch collapses causing changes in the architecture of the foot. The heel is pushed out and it is deprived of its heel support. The forefoot is tilted out and the foot sags. Pain in the feet or joints is felt when standing. The deformities can be reducible up to the age of 11. Around 12 or 13 years old, painful muscle contractures can appear and between 16 and 18 years old the deformities become irreducible.

What are the symptoms of flat feet?

Flat feet are often found in children who walk crushing the arch of the foot which causes pain in this region. However, the long-term consequences lead to muscle, skeletal, joint or postural problems. Among the most common symptoms of flat feet are:

  • Flattening of the arch of the foot;
  • Pain in the arch of the foot and ankles;
  • A feeling of imbalance, especially on irregular and uneven surfaces;
  • Pain in the knee, lower back and hip;
  • A duck gait;
  • Achilles tendon narrowing;
  • Ankle deformity and instability;
  • Difficulty walking and running.

Untreated flat feet can lead to other types of disease including achilean tendonitis, bunions, arthritis of the feet, hammer toes and shin splints.

What are the causes of flat feet?

Flat feet can have various origins depending on when it occurs. During childhood, or even at birth, the main cause is usually congenital, an abnormality that prevents the arch of the foot from assuming its normal and usual shape. Other causes can lead to flat feet, such as:

  • Muscle deficit;
  • Rickets which may be due to hypotonia, lack of muscle tone;
  • Obesity;
  • Wearing certain shoes that lack adequate arch support;
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes;
  • Certain diseases such as diabetes, cerebral palsy, arthritis, osteoarthritis or dystrophy;
  • Trauma, tendon rupture, injury, tearing of the ligaments of the foot;
  • Pregnancy.

Can we prevent flat feet?

When the diagnosis of flatfoot is made in children who are still young, before adolescence, it is possible to act positively on flat feet.

  • Seeing a podiatrist as early as possible is the most preventative step: the podiatrist will establish the correct diagnosis and decide on an action plan based on the individual’s situation.
  • Wear orthopedic shoes or insoles recommended by your podiatrist. Never trust advertising appearances: advice from a podiatrist is the key to prevention.
  • Follow specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the foot and, if necessary, the plantar arch.
  • Constantly monitor your weight and follow a healthy diet. Obesity will only make the condition of the feet worse.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle by staying active.

Are there any treatments for flat feet?

There are many treatments available depending on a person’s age and the severity of flat feet.

In general, no treatment is justified before the age of 4 years because of the possibility of spontaneous recovery. However, rehabilitation of the sole of the foot may be recommended.

At the end of growth, in addition to wearing shoes and orthopedic insoles or plantar orthotics, corrective surgery may be recommended.

Make an appointment …

Our PodiatreMD network in downtown Montreal, on Rue Jean-Talon (corner Lucerne), Laval, West Island, Gatineau and Ottawa, is here to serve you. Our staff are as warm as they are competent and will know how to meet your needs. So don’t hesitate to call us to make an appointment.