Flatfeet is a condition in which the arches on the inside of the feet are flattened, allowing the entire soles of the feet to touch the floor when standing.
Flatfeet is a common and usually painless condition, which can occur when the arches of the feet do not develop during childhood. In other cases, flatfeet develop after an injury or from the wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Flatfeet may sometimes contribute to problems in the ankles and knees because the condition can alter the alignment of the legs. If there are no symptoms of pain, treatment is not usually necessary for flatfeet.
Most cases of flatfeet cause no signs or symptoms. However, some people with flatfeet experience symptoms of foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. The pain may worsen with activity. Swelling along the inside of the ankle may also occur.
A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers because the foot’s arch has not yet developed. The arches of most people develop during childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type and people without arches may or may not experience problems.
Some children have flexible flatfoot, in which the arch is visible when the child is sitting or standing on tiptoes but disappears when the child is standing. Most children outgrow flexible flatfoot without problems.
Arches can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear may weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of the ankle and helps support the arch.
Factors that increase the risk of flatfeet include:
- Injury to the foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis