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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 about ages 3 to 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 linked to 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 moulded 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 of 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 physiotherapist 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 non-steroidal 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.
Current as of: March 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineGavin W.G. Chalmers DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Current as of: March 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Gavin W.G. Chalmers DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
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