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Flat Feet

Flat Feet

Alternate Names

  • pes planus
  • fallen arches
  • pes planovalgus
  • excessive pronation
  • talipes calcaneal valgus
  • Arch of foot


Flat feet is a condition where more of the foot surface is in contact with the floor than normal.

What is going on in the body?

A truly flat foot with no arch is rare. Most people with flat feet have flexible arches. When the foot is not bearing weight, it has an arch. As soon as weight is placed on the foot, the arch collapses.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

People with flat feet can develop chronic fatigue. This can lead to problems with activities of daily living and work. If it makes one's feet hurt, a person can avoid exercise, which, in turn, can increase his or her risks of heart disease.
Flat feet often cause a person's lower joints to be positioned oddly. That chronic repetitive stress can lead to osteoarthritis, which is chronic joint pain, or stress fractures of the bones of the foot.


What can be done to prevent the condition?

Flat feet is not a preventable condition.


How is the condition diagnosed?

The condition can be diagnosed just by looking at the feet. The healthcare professional provider looks for any change in the arch shape when weight is put on the foot. Often the position of the heel from behind is checked. Instead of standing straight up, the heel rolls to the inside. This rolling is called pronation.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Long-term effects can include arthritic changes in the feet. These changes can become so severe that surgery is needed to reconstruct the foot.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Flat feet can be treated with supportive shoes and inlays for the shoes that support the arch. A good shoe store can help with getting the right shoes. Inlays are available over-the-counter at drugstores.
A healthcare professional can prescribe orthotics, which are inlays customized to fit the person's foot exactly. If this condition becomes severe, surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Surgery can be complicated by bleeding, infection, or an allergic reaction to the anesthetic.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Inlays and shoes should be checked often to make sure they are still in good working order. There should be no change in shape. Inlays must continue to support the foot.


How is the condition monitored?

People with flat feet should make periodic visits to a healthcare professional to make sure the treatments are continuing to work.


Weinster, Stuart, Tureks Orthopaedics, 5th edition, 1994

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