Fallen arches (flat feet)

Feet | Orthopaedics | Fallen arches (flat feet) (Disease)


Flat feet (also called pes planus or fallen arches) is a formal reference to a medical condition in which the arch of the foot collapses, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. In some individuals (an estimated 20–30% of the general population) the arch simply never develops in one foot (unilaterally) or both feet (bilaterally).

Flat feet were formerly a physical-health reason for service-rejection in many militaries. However, three military studies on asymptomatic adults (see section below), suggest that persons with asymptomatic flat feet are at least as tolerant of foot stress as the population with various grades of arch.

Causes and Risk factors

For a long time, flat feet were thought to be the sign of a poorly developed or structured foot. However, in recent years, it has been found that people with flat feet function generally well and there aren’t many foot problems that are linked to a flat foot.

The most critical factor in foot soreness and injury is the way you walk and move, not how flat or high your arches are. If your feet move abnormally while you are walking or standing, this can make you more prone to injuries and foot soreness.

Most flexible flat feet are asymptomatic, and do not cause pain. In these cases, there is usually no cause for concern, and the condition may be considered a normal human variant.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Therapy depends on the extent of the abnormality and may include: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications/NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen), pain medications such as acetaminophen, arch supports, rest, physical therapy, and/or surgery if severe or due to malformation of the bones. ...

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