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Flatfoot

What Is flatfoot?

Flatfoot is often a complex disorder, with diverse symptoms and varying degrees of deformity and disability. There are several types of flatfoot, all of which have one characteristic in common—partial or total collapse (loss) of the arch. Other characteristics shared by most types of flatfoot include:

  • “Toe drift”, where the toes and front part of the foot point outward
  • The heel tilts toward the outside and the ankle appears to turn in
  • A short Achilles tendon, which causes the heel to lift off the ground earlier when walking and may act as a deforming force
  • Bunions and hammertoes may occur in some people with flatfeet


Health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes sometimes increase the risk of developing flatfoot. In addition, adults who are overweight frequently have flatfoot.


Flexible Flatfoot

Flexible flatfoot is one of the most common types of flatfoot. It typically begins in childhood or adolescence and continues into adulthood. It usually occurs in both feet and generally progresses in severity throughout the adult years. As the deformity worsens, the soft tissues (tendons and ligaments) of the arch may stretch or tear and can become inflamed.


The term “flexible” means that while the foot is flat when standing (weight-bearing), the arch returns when not standing. In the early stages of flexible flatfoot arthritis is not restricting motion of the arch and foot, but in the later stages arthritis may develop to such a point that the arch and foot become stiff.


Symptoms, which may occur in some persons with flexible flatfoot, include:

  • Pain in the heel, arch, ankle, or along the outside of the foot
  • “Turned-in” ankle
  • Pain associated with a shin splint
  • General weakness/fatigue in the foot or leg


If you have flatfoot, or suspect you may suffer from flatfoot. Make an appointment with the North Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic today!


Courtesy of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

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