You have flatfeet when the arch on the inside of your feet is flattened, allowing the entire sole of your foot to touch the floor when you stand up.
A common and usually painless condition, flatfeet may occur when the arches don’t develop during childhood. In other cases, flatfeet may develop after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Flatfeet can sometimes contribute to problems in your ankles and knees because the condition can alter optimal alignment of your legs. If you aren’t experiencing any pain, no treatment is usually necessary for flatfeet.
A flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers, because the foot’s arch hasn’t yet developed. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems.
Arches can also fall over time. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch.
Factors that can increase your risk of flatfeet include:
- Traumatic injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If your feet are causing you significant pain, a doctor specializing in foot disorders (podiatrist) or sports medicine is the best choice for diagnosis and treatment.
When you go to your appointment, wear your everyday shoes because the doctor may want to look at the wear patterns on the soles. Before the appointment, you may want to write down answers to the following questions:
- When did you first notice problems with your feet?
- What other medical problems, if any, do you have?
- Do your parents or siblings have flatfeet?
- Have you ever injured your foot or ankle?
- What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
- Where exactly does it hurt?
- Does any specific motion or position ease the pain or worsen it?
- Does the type of shoe you wear change the pain?
- Can you stand on tiptoe on one foot?
- Have you tried arch supports?
- How is this pain affecting your daily life?