Yes, flat feet is an incredibly common condition. In fact, mostly all infants and toddlers have flat feet. The term refers to a lack of a normal arch when a person is standing. However, in many children, the problem dissolves over time as the tendons tighten and form an arch. This process is usually completed by the time a toddler reaches age 2 or 3. Their arches appear normal by adulthood.
In some rare cases, flat feet in children occurs due to "tarsal coalition". This term is used to describe two or more foot bones that grow together.
In adults, flat feet may happen as a result of fallen arches, in which the arches were once normal but the upward curve has collapsed over time. This happens due to stretched tendons in the foot, damage to the posterior tibial tendon, health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, nerve damage, or broken bones. In some adults, this abnormality continues from birth throughout their life.
Obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, and aging may all increase your chances of having flat feet.
Typically, there may be no treatment required for flat feet unless you experience pain or discomfort. If there is no pain or problems with ambulation, then you do not need treatment. However, if the movement of your feet is difficult, the feet tire quickly, you have achy arches and heels or the inside bottom of your feet become swollen, you need to see a podiatrist.
Treatment for flat feet and fallen arches will depend on the nature of the problem and the cause. Your doctor may simply recommend rest, elevation, and the application of ice to reduce pain and swelling. Stretching exercises may also be demonstrated to improve range of motion and ease discomfort. Physical therapy, prescription of orthotic devices, pain relievers, and corticosteroids may also be a part of your treatment plan for flat feet.
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