Flat foot is a foot condition in which the arch of the foot has either partially or totally dropped or has never developed. While it is common in babies and small children, it can become a problem in adulthood if the arch never forms. For adults, the development of flat feet can be brought upon by injury, because of pregnancy due to increased elasticity, or obesity. Those who have health concerns such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes may also be at greater risk for developing the condition.
If you suspect that you have flat feet, it is best to consult your podiatrist. Your foot doctor will examine the suspected foot and observe how it looks while you sit and stand. He or she may take an X-ray to determine how serious the condition is. Some common signs of flat foot include toe drift, in which the toes and front part of the foot point outward, a short Achilles tendon, and a heel that tilts outwardly while the ankle tilts inward.
Once flat foot has been diagnosed, your podiatrist may suggest one of several treatment options. Flat feet can be rigid, in which the feet appear to have no arch even when the person is not standing; or flexible, in which the person appears to have an arch while not standing, but once standing the arch disappears. Those with flexible flat feet may be told to reduce any activities that cause pain and to avoid extended periods of walking or standing. Another suggestion may be weight loss, as excessive weight may be placing pressure on the arches.
In few cases, if the condition is severe and all other methods have been exhausted, surgery may be required. This is normally avoided, however, due to a lengthy recovery time and high cost.