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is common in children younger than 6 years. The arch of the foot usually develops by 10 years, but you may still have flatfoot as an adult. Flatfoot may be flexible or rigid. Flexible means you have an arch when your foot is relaxed but not when you are standing. Rigid means your foot does not have an arch even when it is relaxed.

Foot Anatomy

Common signs and symptoms:

  • The soles of your feet are flat on the floor when you stand
  • Your toes or heels point out as you walk
  • A tight Achilles tendon causes your heels to lift off the ground as you walk
  • Foot problems such as a bunion
  • Pain in your heel or arch that is worse when you move your foot
  • Pain in your back, shin, hip, or knee
  • Swelling on the inside part of your ankle


may only be needed if you have symptoms such as pain:

  • A physical therapist can teach you how to prevent overuse of muscles and tendons in your legs and feet. He can also teach you exercises to stretch tight tendons in your heel. The stretches may be the only treatment you need.
  • Surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work. You may need to have a bone or tendon problem repaired. Your ankle may be made more stable, or your Achilles tendon may be made longer. Bones may be fused (joined) or separated.

Manage flatfoot:

  • NSAID medicine such as ibuprofen can help relieve pain and swelling. Ask your healthcare provider how much medicine to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney damage if not taken correctly. If you take blood thinning medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you.
  • Rest your feet if you have pain. Avoid activities that make your symptoms worse. For some causes of flatfoot, your healthcare provider may recommend a cast or splint for a short time. This will completely rest your feet.
  • Orthotics may be helpful if you have foot pain. An orthotic is a device made of plastic that slips into your shoe. They support the arch as you walk. Orthotics will not cure flatfoot. They will only help relieve pain and help you walk more easily. Talk to your healthcare provider about the kind of orthotics that are best for you. You might want to choose a style that is soft. Hard orthotics may increase your pain.
  • Weight loss may help relieve your symptoms if you are overweight. A healthy weight can also prevent flatfoot. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. He can help you create a healthy weight loss plan if you are overweight.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

He may refer you to a specialist if you have symptoms such as pain. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Flatfoot (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.