You have flatfeet when the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, allowing the entire soles of your feet to touch the floor when you stand up.
A common and usually painless condition, flatfeet can occur when the arches don't develop during childhood. In other cases, flatfeet develop after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Most people have no signs or symptoms associated with flatfeet. But some people with flatfeet experience foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. Pain may worsen with activity. Swelling along the inside of the ankle can also occur.
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.
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 stands. Most children outgrow flexible flatfoot without 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.
There are many causes of flat feet. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. Often people with flat feet do not experience discomfort immediately, and some never suffer from any discomfort at all. However, when symptoms develop and become painful, walking becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
Factors that can increase your risk of flatfeet include:
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively (non-surgical treatments) with over-the-counter orthotics. Footwear should also be examined to ensure there is a proper fit. Footwear with a firm heel counter is often recommended for extra support and stability. Improperly fitting footwear can lead to additional foot problems.
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