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Flatfoot (pes planus) is a condition in which the longitudinal arch in the foot, which runs lengthwise along the sole of the foot, has not developed normally and is lowered or flattened out. One foot or both feet may be affected.
Flatfoot may be an inherited condition or may be caused by an injury or condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, or diabetes.
Children as well as adults may be flat-footed. Most children are flat-footed until they are between the ages of 3 and 5 when their longitudinal arch develops normally.
People who have flat feet rarely have symptoms or problems. Some people may have pain because of:
Children sometimes have foot discomfort and leg aches associated with flat-footedness.
Treatment in adults generally consists of wearing spacious, comfortable shoes with good arch support. Your doctor may recommend padding for the heel (heel cup) or orthotic shoe devices, which are molded pieces of rubber, leather, metal, plastic, or other synthetic material that are inserted into a shoe. They balance the foot in a neutral position and cushion the foot from excessive pounding.
For children, treatment using corrective shoes or inserts is rarely needed, as the arch usually develops normally by age 5.
Surgery is rarely needed.
You may be able to relieve heel pain by stretching tight calf muscles. See a picture a calf stretch exercise.
Foot-strengthening exercises done with a towel and weights. See a picture of a towel curl exercise.
Calf-stretching exercises done with a towel. See a picture of a towel stretch exercise.
Some people-especially competitive athletes, people who want to return to a heavy sports program, or people who are highly motivated-may choose more intensive strengthening and flexibility programs. A physical therapist or trainer can help supervise a program recommended by your sports medicine specialist or a foot specialist, such as an orthopedist or podiatrist.
Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), heat, or massage may help with foot pain and leg discomfort. If flatfoot is related to another condition, surgery or other treatment may be needed.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD, MMEd, FRCPC - Emergency MedicineGavin W. G. Chalmers, DPM, FACFAS - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Current as ofNovember 29, 2017
Current as of:
November 29, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD, MMEd, FRCPC - Emergency Medicine & Gavin W. G. Chalmers, DPM, FACFAS - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
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