Flat Feet Causes and Treatment

Flat Feet Causes and Treatment

Flat feet, medically known as flexible pes planus is a foot deformity where the individual lacks or has decreased foot arch when they stand on their feet and arches recreate when not standing hence the term “Flexible”.  It is most often noted in childhood and continues into adulthood. It is a complex deformity with varying degree of deformity and symptoms.  In general, patient’s pain and symptoms correlate to the amount of deformity.  The more the deformity, the more patients’ symptoms and disability will be. If left untreated, it can lead to arthritis and limited function.

Flat Feet Causes:

  • It is congenital (patient inherits the deformity from mom and/or dad)


Findings of having Flat Feet:

  • Partial or complete collapse of the arch of the foot 
  • Tight Achilles tendon (Ankle Equinus)
  • Patient may have bunions and/ or hammertoes as a result of a flatfoot
  • Pain in the ball of the foot as the result of tight Achilles tendon
  • Front part of the foot / toes may be pointing outward
  • The heel tilts toward the outside and the ankle appears to turn in (Calcaneal valgus)

Symptoms of Flat Feet:

  • Pain in the arch, ankle region
  • Pain along the shin bone (shin splint)
  • General aching or fatigue in the foot or leg
  • Ankle, knee, hip or lower back


  • X-ray is helpful in assessing the severing of deformity and to rule out arthritis


Flat Feet Treatment (Conservative):

  • Activity modifications. Avoid prolonged walking and standing to give your arches a rest.
  • Weight loss. If you are overweight, try to lose weight. Putting too much weight on your arches will aggravate your symptoms.
  • Orthotic devices. Use orthotic devices in your shoes to support to the arches.
  • Immobilization. In severe cases, it may be necessary to immobilize the foot to decrease pain and symptoms.
  • Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy. Ultrasound therapy or other physical therapy modalities may be used to provide temporary relief.
  • Shoe modifications. Wearing shoes that support the arches is important for anyone who has flatfoot (Please refer to our comprehensive shoe list to find the appropriate shoe based on you foot type)


When is Surgery Necessary for Flat Feet?

In some patients whose pain is not adequately relieved by other treatments, surgery may be considered. A variety of surgical techniques is available to correct flexible flatfoot and one or a combination of procedures may be required to relieve the symptoms and improve foot function.