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Definition

What are flatfeet?

You have flatfeet when the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, allowing the entire soles of your feet to touch the floor when you stand up.

How common are flatfeet?

This condition is quite common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of flatfeet?

Most people have no signs or symptoms associated with flatfeet. But some people with flatfeet experience foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. Pain may worsen with activity. Swelling along the inside of the ankle can also occur.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

 You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Feet are painful, even when wearing supportive, well-fitting shoes
  • Shoes wear out very quickly
  • Feet appear to be getting flatter
  • Feet are weak, numb or stiff

Causes

What causes flatfeet?

A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers, because the foot’s arch hasn’t yet developed. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems.

Some children have flexible flatfoot, in which the arch is visible when the child is sitting or standing on tiptoes, but disappears when the child stands. Most children outgrow flexible flatfoot without problems.

Arches can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for flatfeet?

There are many risk factors for flatfeet, such as:

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are flatfeet diagnosed?

To view the mechanics of your feet, your doctor will observe your feet from the front and back and ask you to stand on your toes. He or she might also look at the wear pattern on your shoes.

Imaging tests

If you’re having a lot of pain in your feet, your doctor may order tests such as:

  • X-rays. A simple X-ray uses a small amount of radiation to produce images of the bones and joints in your feet. It’s particularly useful in detecting arthritis.
  • CT scan. This test takes X-rays of your foot from different angles and provides much more detail than a standard X-ray.
  • If your doctor suspects an injured tendon, he or she may request this test, which uses sound waves to produce detailed images of soft tissues within the body.
  • Using radio waves and a strong magnet, MRIs provide excellent detail of both hard and soft tissues.

How are flatfeet treated?

No treatment is necessary for flatfeet if they don’t cause pain.

Therapy

If your flatfeet are painful, your doctor might suggest:

  • Arch supports (orthotic devices). Over-the-counter arch supports may help relieve the pain caused by flatfeet. Or your doctor might suggest custom-designed arch supports, which are molded to the contours of your feet. Arch supports won’t cure flatfeet, but they often reduce symptoms.
  • Stretching exercises. Some people with flatfeet also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Exercises to stretch this tendon may help.
  • Supportive shoes. A structurally supportive shoe might be more comfortable than sandals or shoes with minimal support.
  • Physical therapy. Flatfeet may contribute to overuse injuries in some runners. A physical therapist can do a video analysis of how you run to help you improve your form and technique.

Surgery

Surgery isn’t done solely to correct flatfeet. However, you might have surgery for an associated problem, such as a tendon tear or rupture.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage flatfeet?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with flatfeet:

  • Avoid activities that aggravate your condition. Participate in low-impact activities — such as walking, biking or swimming — rather than jumping and running activities.
  • Arch supports. Over-the-counter arch supports might increase your comfort.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers might help.
  • Weight loss. Losing weight can reduce stress on your feet.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 21, 2017 | Last Modified: August 21, 2017

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