The arch of our feet is the supportive framework for bone and joint alignment. If this arch looses its strength, the bony support is lost allowing the arch to collapse, resulting in the flattening of the foot. Much like a sagging bridge, the weakness in the center strains the joints and ligaments at both ends of the foot. Many symptoms that occur in the foot are a result of this condition, such as bunions, hammer toes, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and arthritis.
There are many causes for people to suffer from flat feet. Some people are genetically born with them. Others acquire flat feet as a result of tendon rupture or dysfunction, trauma, arthritis, or skeletal disorder. Sometimes the repeated pounding on hard surfaces can also weaken the foots arch system.
Generalized foot pain due to flat feet usually does not occur for years. As time goes on the strain on the bones, joints and ligaments start to become evident, causing pain with walking or standing. Pain radiating up into the back or front of the legs are common as fatigue syndromes begin to manifest themselves.
Depending on the degree of deformity and the discomfort associate with the condition will depend on the testing preformed. Initially an X-ray will be obtained to assess the bone alignment. If needed, an MRI or CT scan will be preformed to determine involvement of other anatomical structures in the foot.
If flat feet are diagnosed at an early stage of development, then simple support techniques such as specialized taping, over the counter shoe inserts or custom made shoe inserts can be attempted. If the condition is diagnosed later, or the symptoms are more advanced, cast immobilization, or even surgery may be required.