Flat feet (also known as fallen arches or pes planus) is a condition in which the arch of the foot collapses and comes in contact with the ground. This means that when a person stands or walks, their entire foot touches the ground instead of just their heel and the ball of their foot.
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Visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t mean that surgery is necessary. Our orthopedic doctors always prefer to use non-surgical procedures to treat injuries.
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There are 4 different types of flat feet. Each type has its own characteristics. The 4 different types of flat feet are as follows.
The most common of all the types are flexible flat feet. You will see the arches when you’re not standing, but they will disappear when your feet are weight-bearing.
Flexible flatfoot tends to develop in childhood or adolescents. Both feet are affected and it gets worse over time. Ligaments and tendons in the foot arch can stretch, tear, and swell.
No arches will appear when you have rigid, flat feet—weight-bearing or not. This condition progressively worsens with age and generally begins during adolescence. You will likely have some arch pain and difficulties flexing the feet up and down or side to side. A rigid flat foot can affect one or both feet.
Fallen arches can occur suddenly. Your foot will likely turn outwards and be very painful. This type of flat foot will usually occur in one foot. It most often occurs when there is inflammation or a tear in the posterior tibial tendon, which supports the arch.
This condition is a birth defect that prevents the arch from forming. In vertical talus, the talus bone on the ankle is not in the right position. The condition is also known as rocker-bottom foot, as the foot resembles a rocking chair.
Flat feet can be caused by genetics or an injury to the tendons that support the arch. The symptoms include pain in the heel or arch area, tiredness and discomfort after prolonged standing or walking, difficulty fitting into shoes comfortably, and even knee, hip and back pain.
In some cases, flat feet may cause problems with balance and stability due to reduced shock absorption during activities such as running or jumping.
The causes of flat feet in adults are different from the causes of flat feet in children.
There are several ways that adults can develop flat feet. The following lists some of the most common causes of flat feet in adults:
All babies are born with flat feet. They usually develop arches in their early childhood. Some may not develop their arches for the following reasons:
Risk factors that can affect the development of flat feet include the following:
You may or may not have any pain associated with flat feet. Other symptoms of flat feet include the following:
You can sometimes identify flat feet when you come out of the shower. Typical feet, with normal arches, leave a footprint that is curved. On the other hand, a flat foot will leave a footprint that is more solid.
Many people with flat feet can live with the condition. However, you should seek medical attention if you experience:
Unless you have significant problems, treatment may not be necessary. If you experience foot pain, stiffness or other issues, then some conservative treatment may help to relieve these symptoms. Surgery is rarely needed and is generally only used to fix problems with bones or tendons.
Conservative treatments for flat feet may include:
Get proper treatment for your flat feet today. Our foot and ankle surgeons at the Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center are expertly trained in treating flat feet.
Our treatment includes custom orthotics and physical therapy. Contact us today to make an appointment! We have convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus, OH.
Medically reviewed by Sarah Abshier, DPM, CWS