Flat Feet (Fallen Arches, Pes Planus)
Flat feet at a glance
- Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, is a condition in which the entire sole of the foot makes contact with the ground.
- Flat feet may be a result of the arches not developing properly during childhood, but can also be caused by injury or the normal wear-and-tear of aging.
- Many people with flat feet experience no symptoms, but others report aching pain in the arch, heel, lower legs or back, and difficulty rising on tiptoes.
- Diabetes and obesity increase the risk of developing flat feet.
- If necessary, treatment may include rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine, and physical therapy exercises. Supportive orthotic devices may also provide some relief. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.
- If the condition is related to other foot problems, surgery may be an option.
Causes of flat feet
Flat feet are a common foot type that occurs most frequently when the arch of the foot does not develop properly during childhood. In some cases, the arch of the foot can fall over time, as the tendons in the ankles weaken from aging and wear-and-tear.
Certain conditions may increase the likelihood that a person will develop flat feet. Obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and serious injuries to the ankle or foot may raise the risk of fallen arches.
Symptoms of flat feet
People with flat feet may have no symptoms. However, some people with flat feet may find that their feet tire easily. They may experience aching pain in the heels, arches, legs, or back, and it may be difficult to stand on tiptoe or perform other types of foot movement.
Treatment for flat feet
In most cases, treatment for flat feet involves rest, ice, and over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and swelling, such as Advil or Aleve. Physical therapy exercises can both stretch and strengthen the muscles of the feet.
Changing to footwear that offers additional arch support, or using orthotic inserts may provide some relief for tired or aching feet.
For people whose flat feet are accompanied by other serious foot problems, surgery may be necessary.
If you experience pain associated with flat feet, contact us to schedule an appointment with our one of our orthopedic foot and ankle specialists in the San Francisco East Bay Area.