Flat Feet tied to Knee Pain and Arthritis

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Medical infographic comparing a flat foot to a normal foor


Interesting study that shows patients with flat feet (lost arch) are more likely to have knee pain and knee arthritis. People with flat feet have a lowered arch at the inside of the foot, such that if they wet their feet and stand on a flat surface, they leave a complete footprint. The study authors found that 22 percent of the elderly patients in their study had knee pain, but that 30 percent of the flattest feet had pain in that same knee. When the researchers accounted for other things that can cause arthritis such as being overweight and being older, there was a 31 percent increased risk of knee arthritis in those with flat feet. A similar pattern was seen with lost cartilage on the inside of the knee, which was found in 29 percent of the flattest feet vs. only 19% of the normal feet. So do flat feet change the way the knee moves and cause osteoarthritis, or is there something about the way flat feet are created that also causes arthritis? It could be either. The researchers postulated that flat feet can cause the knee to rotate abnormally and that this may lead to additional wear and tear. We’ve also seen many patients with flat feet acquire it due to nerve irritation in their back which can cause the strong muscles that hold up the arch to atrophy (shrink). This same low back nerve irritation we believe can lead to arthritis in the knee and ankle. Either way it’s an interesting study that makes us all pause and think about the bio-mechanics of the leg and that the knee bone is connected to the foot bone…

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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