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Flat feet are a common condition. In infants and toddlers, the longitudinal arch is not developed and somewhat of a flat foot is normal early in life. The arch normally develops in childhood, but if the child has painful flat feet they should be evaluated. By adulthood, most people have developed normal arches. Most feet are flexible and an arch appears when the person stands on his or her toes. Stiff, inflexible or painful flat feet may be associated with other conditions and require medical attention.

Foot pain, ankle pain or lower leg pain, especially in children, may be a result of flat feet and should be evaluated.

In the adult, a painful progressive flatfoot can be associated with posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. This condition leads to inflammation and degeneration of one of the most important tendons in the feet and can lead to severe arthritis. If left untreated, this condition may lead to severe disability and chronic pain. Some people are prone to this condition if they have flat feet or an abnormal attachment of the tendon to the bones in the midfoot.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, ice, physical therapy, supportive taping and bracing, or orthotic devices are the common ways of treating painful progressive flatfoot. Consult with your physician before taking any medications. Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary and may involve repairing the torn or damaged tendon to restore normal function as well as special bone cuts. To prevent re-injury, orthotic devices or show inserts may be recommended. In severe cases, surgery on the midfoot bones may be necessary to treat the associated flatfoot condition.

 

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