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Disease: Flatfeet Flatfeet
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases

Disease Definition:

When the arch on the inside of someone's feet is flattened, it means that they have flatfeet, a common and painless condition. Flatfeet could sometimes develop when the arches don't develop properly during childhood. This condition could also occur after someone's had a pregnancy or as they age.


In case this condition causes the person's ankles to turn inward, problems may occur in their knees, ankles and feet; but usually, flatfeet don't cause any problems. In order to prevent some of the complications of flatfeet, there are many simple corrective devices available.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


These are some of the signs and symptoms of flatfeet:


  • Foot pain
  • Lower leg pain
  • A flat look to one or both of the feet
  • Swelling along the inside of the ankle
  • Uneven shoe wear and collapse of the shoe toward the inside of the flat foot
  • Pain on the inside of the ankle


Each of someone's feet is made up of 26 bones that are held together by 33 joints, in addition to more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. The arches are formed by the intricate alignment of these structures.


When a person walks, the springy and elastic arches will help distribute the body weight across the feet and legs. The arches act as rigid levers for proper mobility, but they should also be resilient and flexible to adapt to various surfaces. This means that the arches play an integral role in how a person walks.


Because in infants and toddlers the foot's arch hasn't yet developed, flatfeet are quite normal. Some people never develop arches, but usually, people's arches develop throughout childhood. People without arches may or may not have problems. This is a normal variation in foot type.


Over time, arches could fall. The posterior tibial tendon could weaken over years of wear and tear. This tendon runs along the inside of the ankle, from above the ankle to the arch. The main support structure for the arch is the posterior tibial tendon. Inflammation of the tendon (tendinitis) and even tearing of the tendon could be caused by an overload to this tendon. The foot's arch loses support and can flatten once the tendon is damaged.



Listed below are some of the problems that flatfeet could contribute to or worsen:


  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Shin splints
  • Inflammation and pain in the ligaments in the sole of the feet, also called plantar fasciitis.
  • Arthritis in the foot or ankle
  • Posterior tibial tendinitis and Achilles  tendinitis


Flatfeet could also lead to pain in the ankles, hips and knees, because it affects the body's alignment.


Flatfeet don't cause any signs or symptoms in many people. This could be because the lower parts of someone's legs have aligned in a way as to accommodate for flatfeet. If this is the case, the person may never experience any pain or other problems. In case this condition is causing problems, someone may try wearing over-the-counter insoles or arch supports in order to reduce foot pain. In order to find out whether these are appropriate or not, the doctor should be consulted. Depending on someone's particular condition, they may be suggested some of these other treatments and adjustments:


Custom-designed arch supports:

Also called foot orthotics, these arch supports are interchangeable among shoes. Because these foot orthotics are molded to the contours of the person's feet, they could provide more support. There are three types of orthotics; soft, semirigid and rigid. Depending on what kind of support the doctor is trying to provide to the person's feet, the appropriate type will be determined.



Until the pain subsides, a person with this condition may be suggested taking over-the-counter pain relievers.



Until the foot feels better, a person with this condition may be recommended resting and avoiding activities that could aggravate their condition.


Wedge, along with an orthotic:

In case someone has tendinitis of the posterior tibial tendon, in order to take some of the load off the tendon tissue, they may need to insert a wedge along the inside edge of the orthotic.


Additional foot support:

In case someone is diagnosed with posterior tibial tendinitis, until their tendon inflammation subsides, they may be advised wearing a walking boot, a cast or an ankle brace.


Weight loss:

Losing weight could help in case a person is overweight.



A person may need tendon surgery in some severe cases of posterior tibial tearing.


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