Some people have flat feet (no arches) and it doesn't cause them any problems. However, more often than not, if you have flat feet you are very aware of it because it does create pain in your feet, legs and back. The medical term for flat feet is pes planus.
If you have flat feet, this means that your instep and longitudinal arch has collapsed or never developed. You may be born this way or you may develop this condition when you get older. All babies are, in fact, born with flat feet because their arch hasn't yet developed. Sometimes it never develops. When flat feet cause pain, it may be due to pronation, which is the leaning inward of the ankle bones, according to Mamashealth.com. To determine if you are experiencing pronation, take off your shoes and look at them. Place them side by side. They will lean towards each other if they have been worn long enough for the foot's positioning to remodel the sole of the shoe.
If your feet are flat, you may experience swelling and pain on the inside of your ankle, foot pain, lower leg pain and back pain. Another indicator that you have flat feet will be uneven wearing of your shoes, plus you will be able to see the outright appearance of a flat foot, which looks significantly different from a foot with an arch.
There are two different kinds of flat feet. If you have a rigid flat foot, that means that the foot is flat regardless of whether you are sitting and standing. Those with a flexible flat foot will have a bit of an arch when they are sitting down, but that arch disappears when the person stands up and puts weight on his feet. If you have the flexible foot version, it can occur in one or both feet, but the extent of flattening may not be the same in each foot. For some people, this leads to ankle and foot pain as well as leg, hip and knee pain. In other people, it causes no problems whatsoever, according to Foot-pain-explained.com. Individuals with rigid flat feet experience more problems and symptoms.
When It Happens to Children
When children are experiencing pain from flat feet, this may be due to tarsal coalition. This condition occurs when two or more of the child's foot bones have fused together, which is what causes the flat feet in the first place and results in limited motion, thus causing pain.
Some people aren't born with flat feet but acquire them because they have arthritis, poor biomechanics--meaning that they don't walk properly--weight gain, neurological disease, occupational demands that are put on the feet, injuries and hormonal changes. Adult-acquired flat foot can worsen over time. Medically, this condition is called posterior tibial dysfunction. The extra strain on the ligaments and muscles that hold the feet together cause the feet to flatten and stretch. The result is that the muscles in the lower leg and feet start functioning in an abnormal fashion, which causes pain in the legs and feet and other problems such as hammertoes and runner's knee.
Flat feet may cause stress fractures in your lower legs, bunions, calluses, shin splints, tendinitis and pain and inflammation in the soles of your feet.
If your feet flat are causing you grief, get an evaluation by a physician. Some people start wearing ankle braces or shoe inserts. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed. Surgery may also be an option.