Flat Feet

This is a condition in which the entire foot touches the floor. In simple terms, the angle or depression on the inside of the foot seen usually in normal foot will not be present. This condition is termed as "Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches".

Flat Feet (Pes Planus) or Fallen Arches

What are Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches?

How To Identify a Flat Foot?

Before learning about flat feet, one should have an idea about pronation and overpronation. Normal/usual movement of the foot that occur the moment heel touches the floor or ground while walking is called Pronation. During walking, a normal foot can feel rolling inward of the sole of the foot and lowering of the arch in order to facilitate the foot to take the load and pressure from the upper part of the body and transfer the same to the ground safely. This movement also helps the foot to act as shock absorbers. Overpronation, the word itself gives the meaning i.e., excess pronation or over usage, pronation occurs suddenly making the foot to receive unbearable stress or load. Overpronation also affects other parts like low back, knee, ankle, and hip.

By simple observation flat foot can be evidenced. In individuals who tend to overpronate will most likely have normal heel and arch structure when they stand erect, and too much flattening of the arch is seeing while running or walking. In children, especially infants, this flat foot is pretty normal because of increase in fat content in the foot area and more importantly arches will not be completely developed in this age group. On the other hand, in older group and youngsters, fat content in the foot area is quite less and will lead to overpronation depending on the sudden impact that the foot receives.

What is Adult Acquired Flat Feet?

Pes Planus is a medical term that is used to represent a person who has fallen arches or flat feet. Visually flat fleet can be seen when the entire feet touches the ground/floor.
Flat feet or Pes planus might be present from early childhood and it can also occur at a later stage of adulthood. Hence this is also termed as "adult acquired flat feet" because the symptoms are seen only in the adult age when the foot is stressed either due to prolonged usage or trauma. For instance, PTTD (Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction) is a kind of dysfunction of any one of the muscles with which the arches of foot are supported.

Signs and Symptoms of Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches

In most of the cases related to flat feet, symptoms are not exhibited and the individual who has flat feet would not even complain of pain or any other symptoms. Often a person with flat feet exhibit problems related to calves or shin, back and knee pain. In some cases, sometimes at the time of running, pain on inside of the feet can be felt because of fallen arch.

What is Rigid Flat Foot and What Are Its Symptoms?

Rigid flat foot means a condition in which arch of the foot becomes rigid wherein the individual will have the symptoms mentioned below even though nonweightbearing:

  • Pain in the lower back.
  • Tenderness.
  • Tiredness without doing any work.
  • Stiffness of the feet.
  • Pain on the inside (arch) of the feet.

Causes of Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches

The Following Are Some Of The Causes Of Flat Feet-

  • Any kind of sports injury to the foot.
  • Overweight or obesity.
  • Sometimes it may be due to genetic problems.
  • Direct injury to the arch of the foot.
  • Overpronation or running.
  • Fast growth of the foot.

In case of sportsmen, it may be due to excessive stress or pressure exerted on the foot at the time of performing activities or exercise.

Treatment for Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches

Treatment for Flat Feet (Pes Planus) or Fallen Arches in Children:

A child born with flat feet will usually not need any treatment unless he is having gait difficulty or pain.

One can try shoe inserts, heel cups or special shoes for flat footed kids. These aids can only make the children or kids feel more comfortable but that will not change or correct the flat feet.

Flat feet in children will not limit their day to day activities like walking, running, jumping or participating in casual sports.

Treatment for Flat Feet (Pes Planus) or Fallen Arches in Adults:

Flat feet in older adults can be treated with pain relievers, orthotics, and sometimes surgery.

Usually, when pain is not present, then there is no need for emergent treatment. However, it is advisable to consult the Sports Injury Specialist or Podiatrist at your convenient time. In case of sportsmen who tend to use feet for running, prolonged walking, or who stay on feet throughout the day, they should make sure that their soles are protected by wearing shoes that are especially manufactured to safeguard arches of the feet.

In case where presence of pain either severe or moderate is elicited, then consult doctor (Podiatrist) or Sports Injury Specialist and seek proper care immediately. Flat feet (Pes Planus) or Fallen Arches is not a serious condition if it is detected in the early stages and treated by wearing proper protective wear. Usually, doctors recommend orthotic shoe inserts to safeguard the soles of the feet. As a last resort, if rigid flat foot is present, then surgical treatment may be recommended.

Possible Medical Conditions Due to Flat Feet or Pes Planus or Fallen Arches-

Normal structure of the feet is very important in human body. This is because feet have to bear entire weight of the body. So, in order to safely transmit the load of the body to the floor without harming other body parts like hip, knee, low back, or calf muscles, etc., structure of the feet should be intact. Having Flat Feet (Pes Planus) or Fallen Arches can lead to following medical condition:

  • Nerve impingement or entrapment of calcaneus.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
  • Posterior tibial tendinopathy or tendinitis.
  • In rare cases, weakness in the lower extremity muscles can be felt.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: March 25, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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