Flatfoot is often a complex disorder, with diverse symptoms and varying degrees of deformity and disability. Flat feet can develop due to injury, illness, unusual or prolonged stress to the foot, biomechanics, or as part of the normal aging process.
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.
Flatfoot 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.
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
In diagnosing flatfoot, the podiatrist examines the foot and observes how it looks when you stand. X-rays are usually taken to determine the severity of the disorder.
A variety of surgical techniques is available to correct flexible flatfoot. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors.