Everything in your body is designed to work together for optimal function, and it all starts in your feet, which provide the foundational support for your entire musculoskeletal system. So when there’s a problem in your feet, such as flat feet, the effects are not only local, they can also impact far-flung areas, such as your knees, hips, and back.
At Glendale Foot and Ankle Podiatry Center, Dr. Hermoz Ayvazian and our team provide a wide array of services that address problems in your feet and ankles, whether you’re sidelined by a sprained ankle or you’re dealing with a structural issue. And flat feet definitely represent a structural issue that can lead to bigger problems.
Here’s a look at how flat feet can cause knee, hip, and back pain.
Behind flat feet
Flat feet is a condition in which the arches in your feet have partially or completely collapsed, causing your foot to lie flat on the ground. Under normal circumstances, your arches are made up of tendons, bones, and ligaments that form a triangle between the balls of your feet and your heels. Your arches provide support for your body, as well as shock absorption, literally putting a spring in your step.
Flat feet can develop in many ways. When you’re born, your feet are flat, and your arches develop as you gain mobility. In some cases, these arches may never develop, or you may have flexible flat foot, which is characterized by arches that appear to be in place, but disappear as soon as you place weight on your feet.
Many cases of flat feet, however, develop in adulthood, largely due to a dysfunction in your posterior tibial tendon, which stretches from your calf down into your feet. When wear-and-tear causes damage in this tendon, it can lead to adult-acquired flat feet.
As well, injury can also lead to flat feet, as well as conditions like obesity, diabetes, or arthritis.
For some people, flat feet pose no problems, and they’re able to function perfectly well without the support as their bodies are able to compensate for the lack of arches. For others, however, flat feet can lead to pain and discomfort in their feet, as well as in their knees, hips, and lower back.
A bad connection
The reason why you may experience problems in outlying areas due to flat feet is that your body relies on alignment. So, if your arches have fallen, it causes your feet to roll inward. This, in turn, offsets the balance in your ankles, knees, and hips. And this misalignment in your lower extremities can lead to lower back pain as your body tries to accommodate the imbalance.
If you’re struggling with problems because of flat feet, we can take a number of steps to restore order. First, custom orthotics and supportive footwear can go a long way toward making up for the lack of arch support in your feet.
We may also recommend that you perform gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to benefit the supporting ligaments and tendons that are connected to your arches.
Certain lifestyle changes can also make a big difference, such as losing weight to lighten the load on your feet.
If you’d like to learn more about resolving your knee, hip, and back pain due to flat feet, please contact one of our two locations in Glendale or Burbank, California.