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.
Flatfoot may be an inherited
condition or may be caused by an injury or condition such as
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.
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.
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.
is rarely needed.
You may be able to relieve heel pain by
stretching tight calf muscles. See a picture a
calf stretch exercise.
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
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.
October 1, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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