Orthopedic Diseases

Flat Feet


  • Flat feet (also known as pes planus or fallen arches) are feet that have a flatter arch than usual and appear flat on the ground.
  • The condition does not always cause symptoms; but sometimes it can cause pain in the heels, arch, legs, or other parts of the body.
  • Treatment can include orthotics, stretching, weight loss, and wearing more supportive shoes.
What is a flat foot?
It is a term used to describe the condition where the arches of the middle part of the inner side of the feet are fallen (less curved than usual). The natural arch of the foot is usually off the ground.
Flat feet often have no apparent cause and sometimes they run in families. Flat feet could be the result of one of the following cases:
  • The arches of the foot do not develop properly during childhood. Children are often born with flat feet, then they develop and these flat feet disappear at the age of six. Feet become less flexible and arches become deeper; however, about 1 or 2 in 10 children may take their flat feet into adulthood.
  • Some specific cases (e.g. Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and Marfan syndrome).
  • Torn or weak tendons in the feet (due to injury, old age, or weight gain).
Risk factors:
  • Injuries of the foot or ankle
  • Foot ligament injury
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
Flat feet don't always cause symptoms. However, in some cases they can result in:
  • Pain in the heels, arch, legs, or other parts of the body.
  • Pain along the posterior tibial tendon on the inside of the foot and ankle. This may also be accompanied by swelling on the inside of the ankle.
  • Pain that gets worse with activity. Intense activities (e.g. running) can be very difficult for some people with flat feet. Some may even have difficulty walking or even standing for long periods of time.
This is because flat feet change how the feet and legs align and how they work together when moving. Other signs that may indicate you have flat feet include:
  • Shoes that look uneven or quickly wear out.
  • Regular pain in your feet or legs.
  • Frequent tripping or falling, especially in children.
  • Weakness, numbness, or stiffness in your feet.
When to see a doctor?
When you have any concerns about your feet or note the following:
  • Foot pain, stiffness, weakness, or numbness.
  • Problems with walking or balance.
  • Not having flat feet before and suddenly noticing them.
  • Having one flat foot. 
Flat feet can be diagnosed by looking at the shape of the foot when standing, and whether the arches touch the ground. Other tests may also be needed, such as:
  • CT scan to examine the bones of the foot.
  • An MRI scan to check the tendons in the foot.
  • Foot x-ray to check for arthritis.
If you have flat feet that do not cause any pain or concerns, they would not require treatment. If symptoms are present, treatment may include the following:
  • Orthotics (e.g. Arch braces, which help control pain or flat feet injuries).
  • Stretching exercises for your calf muscles to improve flexibility.
  • Flat foot surgery. Surgery is rarely necessary for flat feet.

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Last Update : 02 December 2020 11:39 AM
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