Wait! That Pain May Be From Flat Feet

Wait! That Pain May Be From Flat Feet

If you have flat feet or even slightly fallen arches you could have pain that may easily be remedied without using drugs or surgery.

When humans are born they all have flat feet which, as they grow, eventually form an arch. Yet, some people never develop an arch and go through their lives with asymptomatic (no symptoms) flat feet. However, more studies are showing how this once considered benign condition may be the culprit behind a variety of systemic pain.

In a study published in Physical Therapy Science (9/13), Korean researchers concluded that,

“This study verified that persons with flat feet have a reduced bio-mechanical ability for absorbing external impacts during activities of daily living, raising their risk of incurring physical damage, compared to persons with normal feet.”

The Low Back Connection

There are many reasons you might suffer from low back pain. These include being overweight; having experienced some sort of trauma related injury; or bone degeneration.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that,

“About 60 to 80% of the adult U.S. population has low back pain, and it is the second most common reason people go to the doctor.”

Another reason you may have back pain could be due to your flat feet. When the arch is not there to absorb and balance your body’s constant wear and tear, over time your back could take the brunt of it.

The Framingham Foot Study, published in Oxford Journal’s Rheumatology (7/24/13) concluded that,

“These findings suggest that pronated [downward] foot function may contribute to low back symptoms in women. Interventions that modify foot function, such as orthos, may therefore have a role in the prevention and treatment of low back pain.”

Knee and Leg Pain

Flat feet can also fail to relieve your legs of essential support. The re-distribution of weight puts extra pressure on the knees and shins which may cause a series of pain and possibly injury.

The American College of Rheumatology published the study, ‘Association of flat feet with knee pain and cartilage damage in older adults’ in July of 2011 which researched the “cross-sectional relation of planus foot morphology to ipsilateral knee pain and compartment-specific knee cartilage damage in older adults.”

It was found that,

“Planus foot morphology [flat feet] is associated with frequent knee pain and medial TF [tibiofemoral or inner lower leg] cartilage damage in older adults.”

Overall Fatigue

Having flat feet may be the culprit to your overall fatigue. Of course other factors could be at play such as poor diet, lack of exercise and limited sleep, however, those that do not fall into this category may be fatigued due to extra muscular energy exerted to compensate for flat feet. It has been found that the muscles surrounding the foot and into the upper leg may be compromised.

Researchers from the Dept. of Physical Therapy, School of Rehabilitation, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran published a study in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation (2/13) which concluded that,

“In the flat-feet group, a decrease in the variation of vertical GRF [ground-reaction force] might be due to more flexible foot joints. After fatigue, muscles might lose their ability to control the foot joints and cause higher F2 [minimum force] in the flat-feet group.”

Self-Test and Treatment

Most people are eventually diagnosed with flat feet by a doctor, however, if you’re not sure try this self-test. Get your bare feet wet and stand on a flat, smooth surface that will show your imprint (a dark floor works best). If you have an arch you will see it missing in the imprint, if you have flat feet the entire bottom of your foot will show up.

Flat feet can often be remedied by seeing a podiatrist who will fit you for orthotics. These are cushions you put in your shoes to raise your arch and give your body the support it needs. Do take note that if you get orthotics there may be a slightly painful adjustment period as your muscles get used to the new position. Do not let this discourage you. Sometimes using orthotics sparingly at first will ease you into it.

In addition, some find that using acupuncture can help with flat feet pain as well as orthotic adjustment.

Don’t suffer with pain that might be related to your flat feet. See your podiatrist for a checkup if you have constant discomfort in your feet, knees, legs and/or lower back. It could be your easiest fix helping you avoid unnecessary medication or other treatments.