The Dangers of Flat Feet

Jul 25, 2022

Your feet are among the most important parts of your body. After all, they’re what you rely on to help you navigate your day-to-day life. So, when pain strikes, it can certainly be a cause for concern. If you’re currently dealing with foot pain, muscle pain, or changes to your feet or gait, you might have flat feet. But what are flat feet, how do they impact you, and what can you do moving forward? Let’s walk through all of these questions and more in the guide below!

What Are Flat Feet?

Aptly named, flat feet is the name of a condition describing the lack of an arch (either very little or no arch at all) in one or both of your feet. Interestingly enough, we are all born without an arch. It’s only once we reach the age of six that this arch starts to develop. For some, however, this arch collapses later in childhood or adulthood. There are also some who never develop an arch or who have a specific disability that impacts the arch and other areas in the foot.

It’s important to know that there are different types of flat feet as well. These include:

  • Rigid Flat Feet: Rigid flat feet describe the condition in which you have no arches when standing or sitting. This type generally occurs during adolescence and worsens over time.
  • Flexible Flat Feet: Flexible flat feet describe feet in which there are no arches while standing but there are arches when weight is removed from the foot. Like the above, this condition often worsens with age and may lead to further injury as a result.
  • Fallen-Arch Flat Feet: Whereas the two conditions above affect teens, fallen-arch flat feet occur in adulthood when an arch suddenly collapses. This causes the foot to turn outward, and flat feet pain is to be expected when this happens. This may only happen to one foot or both feet.
X-ray shows what flat feet look like inside of foot

What Causes Flat Feet?

Numerous conditions can lead to the development of flat feet. These include:

  • Obesity: Our feet are designed to support us. However, like any part of the body, they can reach a breaking point. For those who struggle with obesity, weight can put added stress and strain on the arches, potentially leading to flat feet and flat feet pain over time.
  • Age: Adult-acquired flat feet symptoms are more common in adults 40 and over, especially those who have existing health conditions on this list.
  • High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can impact the supply of blood going to your tendons, causing flat feet in the process.
  • Previous Injuries: Injuries like stress fractures may cause flat feet for some. Everything in the foot is interconnected. When one area finds itself damaged, it may not be able to fully support other areas, especially as your foot continues to experience strain and shock daily.
  • Diabetes: Those with diabetes frequently experience nerve problems associated with the feet. Flat feet symptoms in diabetics can be more severe than those with feeling in their feet. Why? Those with diabetes may not feel their arches collapse. Worse still, bones may fracture or even disintegrate as well. It’s important to seek medical help immediately should you notice deformities in your feet.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis, specifically rheumatoid arthritis, is known to cause flat feet. This form of arthritis attacks both cartilage and ligaments, potentially collapsing arches and causing further pain.
  • Damage to the Bones and Tendons: Injuries that affect ligaments, tendons, and bones in the midfoot may collapse the arch and cause flat feet.

Are Flat Feet Reversible?

If you have flat feet symptoms, you may ask yourself, is this something that I can reverse? While flat feet can be treated, there’s no way to reverse the damage that has occurred to your arches. The good news? For many, flat feet don’t present any significant issues or pain. For those who do experience pain or discomfort, there are solutions to help you work toward a better quality of life!

What Can Be Done to Improve Your Flat Feet?

When flat feet pain or discomfort does strike, there are plenty of ways to address this issue. This includes taking NSAIDs like Asprin or Ibuprofen to minimize the pain, physical therapy to stretch out your feet and improve both your flexibility and your mobility, and wearing items like foot braces/splints or custom orthotics designed to help you get around with greater ease.

Woman wears custom orthotics to ease the pain of her flat feet

What Issues Can Flat Feet Cause?

While the causes may vary depending on your situation, flat feet symptoms are similar for most. The symptoms of flat feet are leg, foot, and knee pain, cramping in the legs, changes in the way that you walk, and changes in the appearance of your feet (toes and front of the foot pointing outward). 

Flat feet can also potentially lead to further injuries later on as you continue to walk on said feet, which is why it’s important to seek help if you experience pain or notice any changes to your feet. Flat feet can cause a wide range of issues like plantar fasciitis (inflammation affecting the tissue connecting the heel to the toes), overpronation (in which your foot rolls too far inwards, opening you up to the risk of foot-related injuries), and misalignment of the spine due to changes in your posture and how you walk around.

Michigan Foot & Ankle Specialists Is Here to Help You

If you’ve experienced any of the flat feet symptoms above and believe you have flat feet that need to be diagnosed and treated, Michigan Foot & Ankle Specialists is here to help! We’ve helped patients just like you in Dearborn and surrounding areas address and treat their feet issues for over a decade. 

Are you ready to decrease your pain, increase your quality of life, and get back to what matters most? If so, schedule an appointment with us so that you can take the next steps!



7243 Chase Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48126


(313) 582-6222


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