Flat feet (pes planus) refers to an individual’s foot posture, in this case, the arch of the foot collapses, causing the sole of the foot to come into complete or near-complete contact with the ground.

A flatter foot posture puts pressure on the inside of the feet, and is strongly related to heel and arch, ankle, knee and hip pain, and can increase the risk of injury in athletes.

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Symptoms

  • Easily tired feet
  • Painful or achy feet, more specifically in the heel and arch
  • Swelling of the feet
  • Abnormal stress on the ankle, knee and hip may result in pain in these joints.

Treatments

Treatment of flat feet is not necessary if there is no pain associated with the lower limbs.

If flat feet are causing pain, however, it is important to go and see your local podiatrist to ensure you get the correct diagnosis.

There is a number of ways to treat foot pain depending on what that diagnosis is.

Symptomatic flat feet can be treated with exercises to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot including the muscle which hold up the arch, and other surrounding muscles to allow for increased efficiency during walking.

If flat feet are causing pain, then supportive, well-fitted shoes can help. Extra-wide-fitting shoes with a medial post can provide relief.

Orthotics or custom-designed arch supports relieve pressure on the arch and reduce pain by fixing the postural alignment of the lower limbs.

Surgery may be required to mend a severely flat foot in some cases.

Causes

Common causes of flat feet include:

  • genetic factors, as flat feet can pass from parents to children in the genes
  • Foot or ankle injury
  • arthritisor rheumatoid arthritis
  • Weakness, damage, dysfunction, or rupture of the posterior tibial tendon
  • nervous system or muscle diseases, such as cerebral palsymuscular dystrophy, or spina bifida
  • Tarsal coalition (fusion of bones in the foot)
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