Feet usually have an arch on the inside portion of the foot. A flat foot is a foot that has lost or never developed this arch. It is often associated with the lower part of the legs being angled outwards
Most flat feet are flexible. This type rarely causes problems and usually does not require treatment. Rigid flat feet can cause problems and should be treated.
Flat feet may not cause any symptoms at all. Rigid flat feet may cause:
Calluses, blisters, or skin redness on the inner side of the foot
A stiff foot
Weakness or numbness of the foot
Rapid wearing out of shoes—worn shoes lean in toward each other
Difficulty or pain with activities like running—in the foot, knee or hip
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and foot exam will be done. Flat feet can be diagnosed by appearance. Doing simple tasks during the exam can help determine if the foot is rigid.
If the flat foot is rigid and causing problems, treatment will be with a foot specialist. Flat foot treatment options may include:
Physical Therapy and Exercises
Physical therapy may relieve discomfort. A specific stretching and strengthening program may be used. Exercises can help with the strength of the surrounding muscles. They may relieve some of the pressure in the foot.
Orthotics and Support
Orthotics are shoe inserts that support the foot. These inserts may help to reduce pain and disability in some people. In mild cases, a well-fitting pair of shoes with arch support may be all that is needed.
Flat feet caused by nerve or muscle disease may need special braces.
Feet that do not respond to the treatments above may need surgery. The surgery will help to create a supportive arch.
Well-fitted shoes with good arch support may help prevent flat feet.
Maintaining a healthy weight may also lower wear and tear on the arches.
Adult acquired flatfoot. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/adult-acquired-flatfoot/. Updated September 2017. Accessed February 22, 2018.
Flat foot signs and symptoms. UCSF Children’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/flatfoot/signs_and_symptoms.html. Accessed February 22, 2018.
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