Pes planus, often called flat feet, is very common. Some research estimates that one quarter of the population has flat feet. In fact, we're all born with flat feet and only as we age, somewhere between age 3 and 10, do our feet usually develop an arch.
Some people never grow arches, however, and others experience fallen arches, which occurs when the arch develops but later collapses. It's not difficult to know if you have either of these problems. While seated, with your feet flat on the ground, bend down and look at the inside of either foot. If you don't have the condition, you should see a raised area in the middle. If the whole foot is relatively flat on ground, however, and there's little or no noticeable rise where the arch should be, you probably have flat feet.
While recognizing flat feet might be easy, predicting its long-term effects is more difficult. Over time, flat feet can cause pain, but it's possible for people to have the condition and never feel any discomfort. For people who do develop pain, it usually occurs in the feet and knees, and possibly in the hips and lower back. The discomfort or irritation in any one of these areas can vary immensely. The pain in the foot, for example, can feel sharp, dull, bruised, achy or tight.
Besides genetic causes, which prevent people from ever developing arches, there are a number of factors that can cause flat feet or predispose people to the condition. Structural abnormalities in the feet such as over-pronation, which involves the foot rolling too far inward, are one cause of the condition. Activity level also contributes. People who are regularly involved in athletic activities or work at a job that requires them to remain standing for extended periods are more likely to have flat feet and experience pain from the condition, as it makes them more susceptible to soreness in the feet, knees, hips or low back. Those who aren't active, on the other hand, may have weak muscles that are less capable of supporting the arches, which therefore allows the feet to weaken.
Age and weight also play a role in the condition's development. Middle-aged people who have been working on their feet for years often experience flat feet, as do overweight people who are placing added stress on their feet and legs. Both prolonged standing and excess weight can put stress on the body that forces the legs and feet to do more work than they're capable of.
If you have flat feet, you should see your chiropractor as soon as possible regardless of how much pain the condition's causing. Your chiropractor can determine a plan of management that can ease pain or prevent symptoms from developing, using number of options, including prescribing arch-supporting insoles called orthotics and performing joint adjustments, that can improve foot function.