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A to Z: Flat Foot

Also called: Flatfoot, Flat Feet, Flatfeet,Fallen Arches, Pes Planus, Pes Planovalgus

Flat foot is a condition in which the arches on the inside of someone's foot have less curve to them or are flat, so that the entire sole of the foot rests on the ground when the person is standing.

More to Know

Most babies are born with flat feet and develop arches as they grow. But in some kids, the arch never fully develops. Parents often first notice this because their child has what they describe as "weak ankles" (which appear to turn inward because of the way the feet are planted). Arches can also sometimes lose their curve as people get older or through an injury or medical condition that affects the muscles or nerves of the foot.

In most cases, flat feet don't cause any symptoms and don't need treatment. In rare cases, the condition can cause pain in the foot, ankle, or lower leg. Adults with flat foot may get tired or aching feet after physical activities or after standing for a long time.

Treatment for painful flat feet can include pain-reliever medicine, physical therapy, and, rarely, surgery to repair a tendon or correct the position of joints in the foot. Sometimes, doctors will recommend inserting arch supports into shoes to reduce foot pain.

Parents sometimes worry that flat feet will make their kids clumsier than other kids. But doctors say that being flatfooted isn't a cause for concern and shouldn't interfere with playing sports.

Keep in Mind

Flat foot usually won't cause problems. Doctors only consider treatment if it becomes painful. They also don't recommend any special footwear for kids with flat feet, such as high-top shoes, because these don't affect the development of the arch.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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