What Are Flat Feet?

Flatfoot is a foot deformity involving the arches. The entire foot rests on the ground when standing, rather than the foot having space between the ground and foot. Flatfoot may result from the foot’s arch failing to develop properly during childhood, when standing and walking begin. It can also result from the foot’s arch collapsing over time or due to an injury or other condition.

What Are Some Causes of Flatfoot?

  • Abnormal childhood development of the foot arch, once standing and walking begin
  • Heredity (parents have flatfoot)
  • Failure to treat a foot injury or trauma, such as an ankle sprain.
  • Foot arch that has gradually collapsed over time as a result of aging, weight gain due to pregnancy or obesity, or conditions such as arthritis

What Are Symptoms of Flatfoot?

Commonly, the condition of flatfoot causes no symptoms or pain, but the following indications may develop over time:

  • Pain in the foot, ankle, and/or lower leg area, particularly in the middle of the foot
  • Lack of foot flexibility
  • Localized swelling

How Do I Know if I Have Flat Feet?

  • Do you feel discomfort or pain in your feet and inside of your ankles?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable walking or standing, especially for long periods of time?
  • Does your foot turn outward at your ankle?
  • Is your posture strained, especially in your hips and lower back?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may show some key symptoms of having flat feet.

Test Yourself for Flat Feet

You can easily test yourself to see if you might have fallen arches or flat feet. Follow these three steps:

  1. Get your feet wet.
  2. Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will show, such as on a concrete walkway.
  3. Step away and look at the prints. If you see complete imprints of the bottom of your feet on the surface, then you’re likely to have flat feet.

How Is Flatfoot Treated?

Since most cases of flatfoot do not result in pain, treatment may not be necessary; however, if pain and stiffness occur, the following non-surgical treatments may be advised:

  • Rest and stretch the area
  • Participate in physical therapy
  • Wear orthotics that help distribute and minimize pressure in the foot by providing additional arch support.
  • Ice the area
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications on a temporary basis (ask your doctor first)

In some people, flatfoot can create an inclination to suffer from painful progressive flatfoot, or tibialis posterior tendinitis. This occurs when the tendon of the tibialis posterior is injured, causing inflammation, over-stretching, or tearing. This condition, also called adult-acquired flatfoot, can cause chronic pain and may become disabling if not properly treated.