If you have flat feet, your feet don’t have a normal arch when you’re standing. This can cause pain when you do extensive physical activity.

The condition is referred to as pes planus or fallen arches. It’s normal in infants and usually disappears by age 2 or 3 as the ligaments and tendons in the foot and leg tighten. But, it can last through adulthood: 25 percent of American adults have this condition. Having flat feet is rarely serious.

In some cases, flat feet are caused by injuries or illness, creating problems with walking, running, or standing for hours.

Types of flat feet:

  • Flexible Flat Foot

    • Flexible flat foot is the most common type. The arches in your feet appear only when you lift them off the ground, and your soles touch the ground fully when you place your feet on the ground. This type starts in childhood and usually doesn’t cause pain.

  • Short Achilles Tendon

    • Your Achilles tendon connects your heel bone to your calf muscle. If it’s too short, you might experience pain when walking and running. This condition causes the heel to lift prematurely when you’re walking or running.

  • Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

    • This type of flat foot is acquired in adulthood when the tendon that connects your calf muscle to the inside of your ankle is injured, swollen, or torn. If your arch doesn’t receive the support it needs, you’ll have pain on the inside of your foot and ankle, as well as on the outside of the ankle. Depending on the cause, you might have the condition in one or both feet.


Flat feet are related to the tissues and bones in your feet and lower legs. The condition is normal in babies and toddlers because it takes time for the tendons to tighten and form an arch. In rare cases, the bones in a child’s feet become fused, causing pain.

If this tightening doesn’t occur fully, it can result in flat feet. As you age or sustain injuries, the tendons in one or both feet may become damaged. The condition is also associated with diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

You’re more likely to have flat feet if the condition runs in your family. If you’re highly athletic and physically active, your risk is higher due to the possibility of foot and ankle injuries. Older people who are prone to falls or physical injury are also more at risk. People with diseases that affect the muscles — for example, cerebral palsy — also have an increased risk. Other risk factors include obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus.

There is no cause for concern if your feet are flat and you have no pain. However, if your feet ache after walking long distances or standing for many hours, flat feet may be the cause. You may also feel pain in your lower legs and ankles. Your feet may feel stiff or numb, have calluses and possibly lean toward each other.

If you have foot pain or your feet are causing problems with walking and running, see a podiatrist.

Supporting your feet is usually a first step in treating the condition. Dr. Chau may recommend that you wear orthotics, which are inserts that go inside your shoes to support your feet.

For children, the doctor may prescribe special shoes or heel cups until the feet are fully formed.

Reducing pain from flat feet may involve incorporating some changes in your daily routine. Depending on the cause of your condition, you may have sustained pain and inflammation. Dr. Chau might prescribe medication to reduce the discomfort from these symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can relieve swelling and pain.

Surgery may be an option in more serious cases and is usually the last resort. Dr. Chau surgeon may create an arch in your feet, repair tendons, or fuse your bones or joints. If your Achilles tendon is too short, he can lengthen it to decrease your pain.

Some people find relief from wearing special shoes or shoe supports. Surgery is usually the last resort, but its outcome is usually positive. Surgery complications, though rare, can include infection, poor ankle movement, improperly healing bones, or persistent pain.

Flat feet tend to be hereditary and usually can’t be prevented. But, you can prevent the condition from worsening and causing excessive pain by taking precautions such as wearing shoes that fit well and provide the necessary foot support.

If you believe you have flat feet, it's important that you get it checked out. Click here to book an appointment and have it assessed.

Elite Foot and Ankle
2625 W Alameda Ave, Suite 410
Burbank, CA 91505
Phone: 818-450-6656
Fax: 818-484-2941
Office Hours

Get in touch