What Are Flat Feet (also known as Flat Foot)?

Not having an arch on your foot is called flat feet or fallen arches. Contributing factors to a collapsed arch include:
» Genetics-Heredity
» Obesity
» Pregnancy
» Arthritis
» Injury to the posterior tibial tendon (which connects from your arch, along the ankle to the lower leg)
» Broken bones in the foot
» Diabetes


Characteristics of this condition include turned-in ankles (the heel tilts toward the outside) and Toe drift (the toes and forefoot point outward). Flat feet also contribute to a gait pattern known as overpronation, where your ankle rolls in when walking or running. Overpronation can put stress on the plantar fascia, leading to pain or discomfort, inflammation and other foot problems.

Flat feet do not always cause discomfort. However, walking or running with flat feet may strain your feet and calves, your feet may tire easily. You may experience pain in in your feet, legs and even your back.

What Is Flexible Flat Foot?

One of the most common types of flat feet is flexible flatfoot, where the foot flattens when standing and the arch returns when there is no weight placed on the foot. This usually starts during childhood and continues into adulthood. It usually affects both feet and worsens through the adult years. Tendons and ligaments of the arch may stretch or even tear as you age, causing inflammation and pain. In late stages, arthritis may ultimately cause the foot and arch to become stiff.


How Are Flat Feet Treated?

Your Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic podiatrist will examine your feet while you are sitting and standing to evaluate the severity of flexible flat foot. X Rays are also used in the diagnosis. If you are not currently experiencing symptoms, your podiatric surgeon will explain what you can expect in the future.

Careful evaluation from one of our podiatrists will determine the recommended course of treatment. They will take into consideration the severity of your flat feet, how fallen arches affect your quality of life, and the frequency and intensity of pain.

  • Mild cases can be treated conservatively with orthotics, designed to correct overpronation and support the arch and rear foot.
  • Moderate cases may be treated with rest, icing, stretching, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.
  • Your podiatrist may recommend that you modify your activity to rest your arches, especial activities that aggravate the arches and walking.
  • Additional treatment options include physical or ultrasound therapies.
  • In some case, it may be necessary to use a walking cast to immobilize the arch.
  • Footwear should also be examined to ensure there is a proper fit. Footwear with a firm heel counter is often recommended for extra support and stability. Improper fitting footwear can lead to additional problems of the foot.
  • Shoes that provide extra support and stability are very important if you have fallen arches.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight relieves the stress placed on your arches when you are overweight.
  • Surgery: In some patients whose pain is not adequately relieved by other treatments, surgery may be considered.

What To Expect If Surgery Is Required?

If your symptoms are not relieved by treatments, your foot and ankle specialist may recommend surgery to correct the flat foot deformity. They will take into consideration the severity, impact on quality of life, activity levels and your age. Your podiatric surgeon will use a combination of available procedures to relieve the symptoms and improve foot function. Among these surgical techniques are tendon lengthening procedures, device implants, bone realignment, joint fusions, or tendon transfers. Your recovery time will vary based on the procedures required.

If your flat feet are causing you discomfort or pain, give us a call at one of our 5 local podiatry offices in Charlotte, Concord and Harrisburg today for more information or to schedule an appointment.