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What are Flat Feet?

Image for feet with red mark indicating pain at Achilles tendon.

Flat feet, also referred to as flatfoot, is a condition characterized by the absence or minimal presence of arches in one or both feet. When standing, the soles of the feet make full contact with the ground, lacking the typical arch curvature. While sometimes the arch becomes visible upon lifting the foot, it is generally not noticeable.

At birth, all infants have flat feet, with arches typically developing by the age of 6. However, approximately two out of every 10 children retain flat feet into adulthood, while some adults may experience arch collapse, a condition commonly known as fallen arches or flatfoot.

Diagram of healthy and damaged ankle

Often, flat feet do not cause any pain or discomfort. However, some types of flatfoot may be painful. Symptoms may include:

  • Leg cramps

  • Muscle aching or fatigue in foot or leg

  • Pain in arch, ankle, heel, or outside of foot

  • Pain walking or changes in how you walk

  • Toe drift (where the front part of the foot and toes point outward)

For most individuals, flat feet do not pose significant issues. However, if flat feet result in pain or other complications, various treatment options are available to alleviate symptoms.


Take a moment to watch this video from Dr. Fuchs on Flat Foot:

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