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Flat feet is a common condition in which there is no curve, or arch, on the inner sides of the feet. Normally, an adult foot has an arch. The arch creates a gap between the foot and the ground. This condition can occur in one foot or in both feet.

What are the causes?

 

 

       This condition may be caused by:

  • An injury to tendons and ligaments in the foot, such as to the tendon that supports the arch (posterior tibial tendon). Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone, and ligaments are tissues that connect bones to each other.

  • Loose tendons or ligaments in your foot.

  • A wearing down of your arch over time.

  • Injury to bones in your foot.

  • An abnormality in the bones of your foot called tarsal coalition. This happens when two or more bones in the foot are joined together (fused). Tarsal coalition is often present at birth, but signs of it typically do not show until the early teen years.

What increases the risk?

 

The following factors may make you more likely to develop this condition:

  • Being an adult age 40 or older.

  • Having a family history of flat feet or a history of childhood flexible flatfoot.

  • Having obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

  • Taking part in high-impact sports.

  • Having inflammatory arthritis.

  • Having had any of these problems with the bones in your foot:

    • A broken bone (fracture).

    • Bones that were moved out of place (dislocated).

    • Achilles tendon injuries.

What are the signs or symptoms?

 

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Pain or tightness along the bottom of your foot.

  • Foot pain that gets worse with activity.

  • Swelling of the inner side of your foot or swelling of your ankle.

  • Pain on the outer side of your ankle.

  • Changes in gait. Your gait is the way that you walk.

  • Pronation. This is when the foot and ankle lean inward when you are standing.

  • Bony bumps on the top or inner side of your foot.

How is this diagnosed?

 

This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam of your foot and ankle. Your health care provider may also:

  • Check your shoes for patterns of wear on the soles.

  • Order imaging tests, such as X-rays to see the bone structure.

How is this treated?

 

This condition may be treated with:

  • Rest and ice to decrease inflammation and pain in the affected foot.

  • Stretching or physical therapy exercises. These are done to:

    • Improve movement and strength in your foot.

    • Increase range of motion and relieve pain.

  • A shoe insert (orthotic insert) for one foot or both feet. This helps to support the arch of your foot. An orthotic insert or inserts can be purchased from a store or can be custom-made.

  • Wearing shoes with appropriate arch support. This is especially important for athletes.

  • Medicines. These may be prescribed or injected into the affected foot to relieve pain.

  • An ankle boot or cast or a foot or leg brace to relieve pressure on your affected foot.

  • Surgery. This may be done to improve the alignment of your foot. Surgery is needed only if your posterior tibial tendon is torn or if you have tarsal coalition.

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