In many cases, flat feet are a common condition, and there is no pain or other problems associated with it. The term “flat feet” means just what it sounds like—the feet do not have a developed arch between the heel and the ball of the toes.
The arches of the feet develop throughout childhood. For infants and toddlers who haven’t begun walking yet, flat feet are perfectly normal. By adulthood, most people will develop normal arches.
Causes of flat feet
Other than the normal absence of an arch in young children, the most common cause for this condition is pronation—which is when the ankle bones lean inwardly. Shoe wear patterns can reveal pronation, especially in children. When placed side by side, the shoes of children who pronate will lean toward each other.
In rare cases, tendon inflammation can cause flat feet with a condition called painful progressive flatfoot.
When flat feet become a problem
Generally, people with flat feet do not experience pain. If someone with this condition has pain in the foot, ankle, or lower leg, particularly children, a podiatrist should examine the feet for potential complications.
Painful progressive flatfoot—also known as tibialis posterior tendonitis or adult-acquired flatfoot—is also cause to seek medical treatment. This condition occurs when the tendon of the arch is inflamed (swollen), stretched, or torn. If not treated, painful progressive flatfoot can lead to chronic pain and severe disability.
Treatment for this condition might include icing, supporting taping, wearing braces or orthotics, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. In severe cases, adult-acquired flatfoot can require surgery to repair a damaged tendon or midfoot bone.
If you have pain associated with flat feet, contact us to schedule an appointment and discuss your condition and treatment options.