FLAT FOOT DEFORMITY

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If you have flat feet, your feet don’t have a normal arch when you’re standing. This can cause pain when you do extensive physical activity.

The condition is referred to as pes planus, or fallen arches. It’s normal in infants and usually disappears between ages 2 and 3 years old as the ligaments and tendons in the foot and leg tighten. Having flat feet as a child is rarely serious, but it can last through adulthood.

The 2012 National Foot Health Assessment showed that 8 percent of adults in the United States ages 21 and older have flat feet. Another 4 percent have fallen arches.

FOOT ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

There’s no cause for concern if your feet are flat and you have no pain. However, if your feet ache after walking long distances or standing for many hours, flat feet may be the cause.

You may also feel pain in your lower legs and ankles. Your feet may feel stiff or numb, have calluses and possibly lean toward each other.

CAUSES

Flat feet are related to the tissues and bones in your feet and lower legs. The condition is normal in babies and toddlers because it takes time for the tendons to tighten and form an arch. In rare cases, the bones in a child’s feet become fused, causing pain.

If this tightening doesn’t occur fully, it can result in flat feet. As you age or sustain injuries, the tendons in one or both feet may become damaged. The condition is also associated with diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

In some cases, flat feet are caused by injuries or illness, creating problems with:

Walking

Running

Standing for hours

Flat feet are related to the tissues and bones in your feet and lower legs. The condition is normal in babies and toddlers because it takes time for the tendons to tighten and form an arch. In rare cases, the bones in a child’s feet become fused, causing pain.

If this tightening doesn’t occur fully, it can result in flat feet. As you age or sustain injuries, the tendons in one or both feet may become damaged. The condition is also associated with diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

TREATMENT

TREATMENT OPTIONS

NON-SURGICAL OPTIONS

FOOT SUPPORT
Supporting your feet is usually a first step in treating the condition.

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you wear orthotics, which are inserts that go inside your shoes to support your feet.

For children, they may prescribe special shoes or heel cups until their feet are fully formed.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Reducing pain from flat feet may involve incorporating some changes in your daily routine.

For example, your healthcare provider may recommend a diet and exercise program to manage your weight to reduce the pressure on your feet.

They may also recommend not standing or walking for prolonged periods.

MEDICATION
Depending on the cause of your condition, you may have sustained pain and inflammation. Your healthcare provider might prescribe medication to reduce the discomfort from these symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can relieve swelling and pain.

FOOT SURGERY
Surgery may be an option in more serious cases and is usually the last resort.

Your orthopedic surgeon may create an arch in your feet, repair tendons, or fuse your bones or joints.

If your Achilles tendon is too short, the surgeon can lengthen it to decrease your pain.

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