You have flatfeet when the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, allowing the entire soles of your feet to touch the floor when you stand up.
A common and usually painless condition, flatfeet can occur when the arches don't develop during childhood. In other cases, flatfeet develop after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Flatfeet can sometimes contribute to problems in your ankles and knees because the condition can alter the alignment of your legs. If you aren't having pain, no treatment is usually necessary for flatfeet.
Most people have no signs or symptoms associated with flatfeet. But some people with flatfeet experience foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. Pain may worsen with activity. Swelling along the inside of the ankle can also occur.
Talk to your doctor if you or your child has foot pain.
A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers, because the foot's arch hasn't yet developed. Most people's arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems.
Some children have flexible flatfoot, in which the arch is visible when the child is sitting or standing on tiptoes, but disappears when the child stands. Most children outgrow flexible flatfoot without problems.
Arches can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch.
Factors that can increase your risk of flatfeet include:
To view the mechanics of your feet, your doctor will observe your feet from the front and back and ask you to stand on your toes. He or she might also look at the wear pattern on your shoes.
If you're having a lot of pain in your feet, your doctor may order tests such as:
No treatment is necessary for flatfeet if they don't cause pain.
If your flatfeet are painful, your doctor might suggest:
Surgery isn't done solely to correct flatfeet. However, you might have surgery for an associated problem, such as a tendon tear or rupture.
If your flatfeet cause you minor pain, you might want to try:
If your feet cause you significant pain, your family doctor may refer you to a doctor specializing in foot disorders (podiatrist) or sports medicine.
Wear your everyday shoes to your appointment so your doctor can look at the wear patterns on the soles. Before the appointment, you might want to write answers to the following questions:
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
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