What are flat feet?

What are flat feet?

“Flat feet” is a medical condition where the arch is missing from the foot and the sole of the foot sits almost completely on the ground when standing.  Having flat feet is a relatively common condition effecting 20-30% of the population.  Most babies are born with flat feet and develop an arch within the first few years of life.  Flat feet can be hereditary or may develop with age; some children may never develop an arch, which leads to permanent flat feet.

What causes flat feet?

  • Abnormal childhood development of the foot arch, once standing and walking begin
  • Heredity (parents have flatfoot)
  • Injury or trauma
  • Foot arch that is gradually collapsed over time as a result of aging, weight gain due to pregnancy or obesity, or conditions such as arthritis
  • Diabetes or other chronic conditions
  • Standing on your feet for prolonged amounts of time 

Symptoms of flat feet

Most people do not have any symptoms related to flat feet and some experience foot pain especially in the heal and arch.  The following symptoms may develop over time:

  • Lack of foot flexibility
  • Localized swelling

How to treat flat feet

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

  • Rest and stretch area
  • Participate in physical therapy
  • Wear arch supports, foot braces, and/or supportive tape
  • Ice the area
  • Take-over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications on a temporary basis (as your doctor first)

Flatfoot disorder may gradually worsen to the point that many of the tendons and ligaments in the foot and ankle are simply overworking, often to the point where they tear and/or rupture.  If you suffer from flat foot, make an appointment today to prevent foot damage in the future. 

By: Ira Kraus, DPM