Table of contents:
- Main symptoms
- Possible causes
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- How the treatment is done
- When to go to the doctor
- Possible complications
Flat foot is when there is a decrease or lack of height in the inner plantar arch, which causes the foot to be completely flat and flat on the ground. This foot change is very common in childhood, but can persist into adulthood.
In most cases, flat feet do not usually cause pain, so it can go unnoticed for many years. However, there are also cases where flat foot causes pain, especially during exercise.
Treatment is not usually necessary for flat feet in childhood, as it is common for the plantar arch to form with growth. However, in cases where there is pain or stiff flat feet, the podiatrist or orthopedist may recommend some specific treatment, which can be done with orthopedic shoes, physical therapy and/or surgery.
In most cases, flat feet do not cause symptoms, however, some people may have some discomfort, with pain being the main symptom, which often occurs in children, being an indication to consult the doctor. physician and receive a clinical evaluation. In adults, symptoms that can be seen are bowed foot in addition to pain.
Therefore, it is recommended to consult the orthopedist or podiatrist in case of pain in the sole of the foot, as it may indicate problems in the development of the foot, injuries, fractures or even deformities that require surgical treatment.
Flat foot is a normal condition that occurs from birth, and the plantar arch normally develops in childhood. However, arch development may not occur in some children without causing symptoms, so it goes unnoticed throughout life.
Some causes of flat feet are:
- Excessive natural stretching of the ligaments that form part of the plantar arch structure in the foot;
- Congenital problem;
- Trauma or injury to the foot;
- Bone diseases such as arthritis;
- Diabetes, due to nerve damage affecting the bones and joints of the lower extremities.
Age can also be a cause of flat feet, as with aging there can be a weakening of the tendon that supports this structure, producing flat feet and leading to the onset of symptoms. In addition, flat feet can be stiff, which can cause pain, requiring medical attention to alleviate this symptom.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of flat feet can be made by a podiatrist, general practitioner, orthopedist or physical therapist, through an assessment of symptoms and clinical examination of the foot structure, observing the loss or lack of development of the plantar arch, which can be noticed on one or both feet.
In some cases, when flat feet are accompanied by changes in other places, such as knees, hips or back, for example, or there are doubts about the origin of the pain, the doctor may order imaging tests like lightning X, CT or ultrasound, to more accurately assess the joints and bones in these areas.
Identification of flat feet or lack of development of the plantar arch can be observed by the child's parents or caregivers, who can consult the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and guide the appropriate treatment.
How the treatment is done
The flat foot caused by the natural excessive stretching of the ligaments in this area does not require any type of treatment, as it is usually corrected with growth in adolescence. However, if the child or adult is experiencing pain, the doctor may recommend:
1. Use of orthopedic shoes and/or insoles
In the case of children with flat feet and pain in the sole of the foot, the pediatric orthopedist or podiatrist may indicate the use of orthopedic shoes and/or insoles, as they help form the arch of the foot and allow greater support to the foot. walk.
It is important that parents or guardians are aware of the child's foot development, because due to growth, the child will need to change shoes and insoles frequently, and contact with a podiatrist or orthopedist is recommended. Learn how to choose the right shoe size for children according to their age.
2. Physical therapy sessions
Physiotherapy sessions can be performed 1 or 2 times a week, with exercises and manipulations on the child's foot. It is important that the child or adult in pain undergo physical therapy to try to relieve the pain, in addition to receiving guidance and support from the podiatrist and physical therapist on the types of exercises that can be done at home.
4. Specific physical exercises
Some physical exercises can be indicated to help in the formation of the arch of the foot, such as:
- Walking on tiptoe and only on heels;
- Support your body weight on just 1 foot and do a squat in that position;
- Hold a marble with your toes and place it in a basin;
- Climb stairs on tiptoe;
- Lie on your back and keep the soles of both feet together.
It is important that the exercises for flat feet are indicated by the podiatrist or orthopedist and guided by the physical therapist, because this way a great benefit is obtained, in an individualized way, which can help to reduce the symptoms and improve this alteration.
The podiatrist or orthopedist may recommend surgery to correct flat feet when other treatments have not been effective and the child or adult continues to have flat feet and painful symptoms.
When to go to the doctor
It is recommended to consult the doctor in case the child or adult presents pain in the foot, so that alterations in the walk are identified, such as deviation of the knees when walking or abnormal posture, so that the doctor can evaluate the foot and indicate the proper treatment in case of stiff flat feet.
However, as this is a normal situation and if there are no symptoms, it is recommended to follow the development of the foot until adolescence, when the arch of the foot normally occurs.
In adults, when flat feet cause other problems, such as back pain, heel pain, or knee joint problems, it is necessary to consult an orthopedist to diagnose the cause and indicate the most appropriate treatment.
The arch of the foot helps to cushion the pressure that the body exerts on the feet when walking, running and jumping, and therefore, when the person does not have a well-formed arch of the foot and has a flat foot, complications can arise, such as plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation on the sole of the foot that causes intense pain, spur, which is the formation of a bone callus in that same area of the foot, in addition to pain and discomfort in the ankles, knees and hips, for example.