What causes flat feet?
Sometimes flat feet are simply inherited (thanks mom and dad!). Other times they develop as a result of a weakening of the posterior tibial tendon due to age-related wear and tear, physical activity, and overpronation. Those who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop flat feet.
Should I be concerned about my child’s flat feet?
The arches of the feet develop during childhood, so it’s not normal for your baby or toddler to have arches. Their flat feet are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Arches typically won’t form until your child is two or three years old, and some children won’t develop arches until the age of five.
What are some ways to treat flat feet?
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms then there is no reason to seek treatment for your flat feet; however, if you are dealing with foot pain, particularly around the heel or arches of the foot, then you should talk with your podiatrist about ways to ease your pain and prevent further flare-ups. Some conservative ways to treat flat feet include,
- Wearing properly fitted shoes that provide ample cushioning and support for the entire foot, particularly the arches and heel
- Consider getting prescription orthotics from your podiatrist, which can evenly distribute the weight throughout the foot rather than putting added pressure on the arches or heel
- Losing weight, if the patient is overweight or obese
- Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce pain and swelling
- Talking to your podiatrist about special exercises that you can do to improve the strength and function of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the foot to reduce pain
- Weighing the pros and cons of surgical intervention
- Seek immediate medical attention (head to your local ER)
- You may need a tetanus shot if it’s been more than 10 years since your last shot
- Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist within 24 hours of the injury
- Your podiatrist will provide you with a variety of care instructions to keep it clean and disinfected (make sure to follow all of these instructions)
- New or worsening pain
- Skin that’s warm to the touch
- Wash feet at least once a day with soap and warm water. Make sure that you dry your feet thoroughly after.
- Make sure to dry feet as soon as possible after dealing with sweaty or perspiring feet.
- Choose socks made from materials that wick away sweat and improve ventilation.
- Apply deodorizing sprays or powders in shoes every day after wear, and make sure to wait 24 hours before wearing the same shoes again.
Certain shoes can leave you prone to cracked heels and dry skin due to friction from wearing loose-fitted shoes. People who wear sandals and other open-heeled shoes are more at risk for developing cracked heels. Instead, opt for closed-heeled shoes that fit properly and provide support.
If you are overweight, you may be surprised to discover that this could be contributing to your dry, cracked heels. This is because your feet take on all of your weight while standing, walking, and running. By safely dropping that excess weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise you can alleviate some of the pressure placed on your heels to reduce the risk of cracking.
While we know just how luxurious it feels to stand in a steaming hot shower, especially during the winter months, this could be contributing to dry skin on your feet and cracked heels. If this is something you deal with regularly you may look at your current bathing or showering ritual to see if that could be the culprit. Simply use warm and not hot water, which can strip the skin of the oils it needs to stay moist.
You should moisturize your feet every day to prevent dry skin from happening in the first place. Moisturizers that contain lactic acid, glycerin, or petroleum jelly can help to lock in moisture in your feet. Moisturize every time you get out of the shower and throughout the day, especially before going to bed. If you are prone to very dry, cracked feet, you may wish to moisturize and then wear socks to bed.
- Pain that occurs immediately after an injury or accident
- Pain that is directly above a bone
- Pain that is worse with movement
- Bruising and severe swelling
- A cracking sound at the moment of injury
- A visible deformity or bump
- Can’t put weight on the injured foot
The symptoms of a sprain are far less severe. You can often put weight on the injured foot with a sprain; however, you may notice some slight pain and stiffness. You may also have heard a popping sound at the moment of the injury with a sprain, while a broken bone often produces a cracking sound. The pain associated with a sprain will also be above soft tissue rather than bone. A podiatrist will perform an X-ray to be able to determine if you are dealing with a break or a sprain.
Rest is key to allowing an injury, particularly a fracture, to heal properly. Along with rest, your doctor may also recommend either an over-the-counter or prescription-strength pain reliever, depending on the severity of your fracture. Those with more moderate to severe fractures may require a special boot, brace, or splint. Those with more severe fractures may need to wear a cast and use crutches, so they can avoid putting any weight on the foot.
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