On Thursday, November 24, all OrthoVirginia and Ortho On Call locations will be closed.
On Friday, November 25, OrthoVirginia will be closed but our Blacksburg office and most Ortho On Call locations will be open 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for urgent orthopedic care.

What is flat foot?

Flat foot is partial or total collapse of the arch in your foot. It is a complex disorder, with diverse symptoms and varying degrees of deformity. Characteristics may include “toe drift,” in which the toes and front part of the foot point outward, the heel tilts toward the outside and the ankle appears to turn in. Other symptoms may include a tight Achilles tendon, which causes the heel to lift off the ground too early when walking, and bunions or hammertoes.

There are two types of flat feet. Flexible flatfoot, in which the arch flattens only when weight is applied, typically begins in childhood and continues into adulthood. It usually occurs in both feet and progresses in severity. As the deformity worsens, the tendons and ligaments of the arch may tear and become inflamed. In rigid flat foot, the arch is stuck in the flat position all the time. 

How does flat foot occur?

Common causes of flat foot include:

  • Congenital abnormalities (present at birth)
  • Stretched or torn tendons
  • Damaged or inflamed posterior tibial tendon (the tendon that supports the arch)
  • Broken or dislocated bones

Obesity, diabetes and pregnancy can increase your risk of flat foot.

What are the symptoms?

SSymptoms of flat foot may include:

How is flat foot diagnosed?

IIn addition to a physical exam and health history, your doctor may take an X-ray or MRI of your foot to determine the severity of the disorder.

What is the treatment?

For many people, non-surgical treatment options may relieve symptoms. Conservative measures include:

If these conservative measures fail to alleviate your symptoms and you have pain that interferes with daily activities, surgery may be necessary. The goal of surgery is to relieve symptoms and improve foot alignment and function.

A variety of surgical techniques are available to correct flat foot. It’s important to consult a qualified foot and ankle surgeon to determine the treatment that is most appropriate for you. Surgical options include arthrodesis (fusing the foot or ankle bones together), removing bone spurs, osteotomy (cutting or shaving the bone), synovectomy (cleaning the tendon coverings), tendon transfer, or a bone graft to help your arch rise more naturally. Recovery time varies, depending on the procedure performed.