Flat foot also known as fallen arches and pes planus is a condition where the arch of a foot either does not develop or collapses.
Unlike a normal foot, the sole of a flat foot lacks a medial concave curve which results in the foot having complete or nearly complete contact with the ground when standing. The condition normally does not cause pain or discomfort but in some cases children may experience pain in the affected foot, ankle, and leg.
In infancy, the tendons of the foot are loose and then tighten to form the arch as a child develops. The tendons fail to tighten in some people resulting in a lack of arches and flat foot. Flat foot may also develop later in childhood or life as a result of injury, illness, aging, and/or prolonged stress to the foot.
Flat foot can be diagnosed through observation and a physical examination where the child may be asked to stand with their feet flat on the ground and also on their toes to check for the presence of arches. The severity of the condition can be further assessed with x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans.
Flat feet that do not cause pain or affect a child’s ability to walk or participate in other activities do not require treatment. Pain and discomfort caused by flat feet can usually be relieved with an arch support and foot exercises. Rigid flat feet or pain that is not resolved with conservative treatment may require surgical reconstruction of the foot.