Flatfoot (Pes Planus)
What is flatfoot?
Flatfoot (pes planus) is a condition in which the longitudinal arch in the foot, which runs lengthwise along the sole of the foot, has not developed normally and is lowered or flattened out. One foot or both feet may be affected.
What causes flatfoot?
Who is affected by flatfoot?
Children as well as adults may be flat-footed. Most children are flat-footed until they are between the ages of 3 and 5 when their longitudinal arch develops normally.
What are the symptoms?
People who have flat feet rarely have symptoms or problems. Some people may have pain because of:
Children sometimes have foot discomfort and leg aches associated with flat-footedness.
How is it treated?
Treatment in adults generally consists of wearing spacious, comfortable shoes with good arch support. Your doctor may recommend padding for the heel (heel cup) or orthotic shoe devices, which are molded pieces of rubber, leather, metal, plastic, or other synthetic material that are inserted into a shoe. They balance the foot in a neutral position and cushion the foot from excessive pounding.
For children, treatment using corrective shoes or inserts is rarely needed, as the arch usually develops normally by age 5.
Surgery is rarely needed.
Foot-strengthening exercises done with a towel and weights. See a picture of a towel curl exercise.
Calf-stretching exercises done with a towel. See a picture of a towel stretch exercise.
Some people—especially competitive athletes, people who want to return to a heavy sports program, or people who are highly motivated—may choose more intensive strengthening and flexibility programs. A physical therapist or trainer can help supervise a program recommended by your sports medicine specialist or a foot specialist, such as an orthopedist or podiatrist.
Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), heat, or massage may help with foot pain and leg discomfort. If flatfoot is related to another condition, surgery or other treatment may be needed.
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