Flat Feet from Birth to Old Age
The arch is an ancient structure that goes back to prehistoric times, but the Romans transformed the way many structures were built by perfecting a material (concrete) and style that could bear tremendous loads. The same principle applies to your foot development. Feet develop an arch that helps support the weight of your body. There’s a difference though: most buildings don’t move about, but you do, so your foot arch is also designed to help absorb the trauma of your feet hitting the ground as you walk or run. When the arch doesn’t develop, flat feet can cause issues as time goes on.
Babies and Arches
Infants and toddlers don’t have much of an arch. Muscles and tendons develop later in the legs and feet than elsewhere in your baby’s body. Therefore, the bones may lie flatter to the ground until around age two or three.
Toddlers also have thicker fat pads on their feet, which add stability as they are learning to walk. This pudginess that looks so cute gradually disappears as they get older and the foot begins to look different.
Flat Feet in Children
Once your child is walking more, the foot arch normally begins to appear, and is usually fully formed before adolescence. However, some children have a condition known as flexible flatfoot, where the arch is still not seen when they are standing, but appears if they rise on tiptoe or let their feet dangle when seated. Also, about 30 per cent of people will never develop a curved arch in their feet.
Most times this does not cause a problem. As long as the arch is flexible and does not cause pain, you don’t need to worry about your child’s flat feet. There are some cases, though, where it is good to come to our office and have feet checked. Flat feet can cause issues with ankle and knee joints, and may also make your child more prone to stress fractures. That’s because a rounded arch “gives” a bit with each step to absorb the impact, but a flat one transfers more of that trauma to the bones. If your son or daughter complains of pain, or hesitates to be physically active, he or she might benefit from treatment that would help.
Even if your arch developed normally as a child and teen, you can have issues later in life. For one thing, a child’s soft bones can mask problems, but once the bone tissue matures and hardens, problems may begin to be more evident. Also, the normal aging process can weaken tendons that hold up the arch, and your foot may begin to overpronate (lean toward the inside). Diseases like diabetes and arthritis can damage bone structure and cause your arch to collapse as well.
Flat foot symptoms in adults may include pain not just in the arch but also in the heel or ankle. It can even rise up into the shin. Because your gait is thrown off, other joints in knees, hips and back may also become sore. Another common feeling is a general ache or tiredness felt in the leg or in your foot. When flat feet begin to cause symptoms—at any age—it is time to visit our office for treatment.
Flat Foot Treatment in the Edison and Warren Areas
Ankle and Foot Specialist of New Jersey has a variety of ways to treat flat feet. Conservative therapy includes modifying your activity, losing weight, choosing better shoes, or taking medication for pain. Using a cast or brace, or staying off your feet for a while may also be recommended. Physical therapy can also be prescribed to strengthen muscles and tendons.
Another solution is custom-designed orthotics to better support your arch and correct your pronation. As a final option, surgery to reconstruct a fallen arch can be done. When your pain is gone and foot function improves, you can become active again and increase your enjoyment in life.
To discuss these options or any other foot issue you are facing, call our offices in South Plainfield, Hillsborough and Warren, NJ at 908-222-8980 for an appointment with Dr. Jyotsna Thapar, or request one now online.