Flat feet, also referred to as flatfoot, pes planus, pronated foot, and fallen arches, is a deformity with various degrees of physical impact. This condition in one or both feet can be passed down as a hereditary trait or may simply develop over time. Flat feet are characterized by no arch; the entire sole of your foot touches, or nearly touches, the ground when standing.
Flexible flatfoot is a common form of flatfoot that typically shows up in children and worsens with age. Flexible flatfoot usually occurs in both feet and is characterized by feet that flatten (the arch gives way) when the foot is supporting the body, but regains its arch when the foot is relaxed.
Infants & children
Flat feet are common in children and are often caused by:
- Laxity of ligaments
- Tight Achilles tendon
- Lack of foot exercise
Typically a child’s arches begin developing in infancy and progress to normal arches in line with normal growth patterns.
Adults can develop flat feet through injury, tight Achilles tendon, abnormal joint formation, continued stresses on the foot and its arch, or simply as they age.
Some of the most common causes of flat feet in adults are:
- Achilles Equinus contracture
- Coalition of rearfoot joints
- Failed or injured tendons
- Marfan syndrome
- Overuse & strain
- Injury & fractures
Symptoms & Identification
The most identifiable symptoms and characteristics of flat feet are the decrease or lack of arches in your feet (especially when weight bearing) and pain / fatigue along the inner side of your feet and arches.
Some issues caused by flat feet include:
- Inflammation of soft tissue
- Foot, arch, and leg fatigue
- Heel, foot, and ankle pain
- Knee, hip, and lower back pain
- Rolled-in ankles
- Abnormal walking patterns
- Shin splints
Flat Foot Treatment
Unless there is a significant level of pain or other foot, ankle, and leg abnormalities directly caused by your flat feet, there isn’t much reason to be concerned. However, if you are facing aches and pains there are treatment options for all ages.
The first step in treating children’s flat feet is to check for it. Children are not as attuned as adults to issues like these, so parents and caregivers should monitor children in their early years for proper arch development. If any abnormalities are noticed the children should be examined by one of our podiatrists immediately.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle our podiatric specialists will conduct both a clinical exam and an X-ray study to determine the type and cause of most flatfoot deformity.
Most cases of flat feet in children are genetic. However their feet are flexible in nature and can be treated with:
- Custom made insoles
- Appropriate footwear
- Surgery – often the best treatment for preventing major developmental complications in the future
Non-surgical treatment options for deterring the development of flat feet and its symptoms are:
- Custom orthotics
- Bracing & supports
- Supportive footwear
- Physical Therapy
- Weight loss
- Daily activity modifications
If non-surgical treatments aren’t relieving the aches, pains, and issues associated with your flat feet, then surgery may be the next option. The Advanced Foot & Ankle podiatrists always look to conservative treatment options first but are experienced in the many surgical options available in treating flat feet.
When diagnosing flat feet, our podiatrists complete a full foot examination with attention given to the biomechanical function of the foot. X-rays are usually taken to determine bone and joint alignments as well. With this review, our podiatrists will be able to suggest next steps in treatment as well as footwear options – from the best daily shoes to running shoes for flat feet.