The term “flat foot” refers to a condition where the foot lacks an arch. In children, the arch on the inside of the foot may begin to develop from four years of age, and should be developed by the age of six. Most children will eventually develop a normal arch, however in some children the arch may fail to develop normally.

In most children flat feet are asymptomatic, and of no concern. However, over time flat feet may lead to an altered walking pattern; clumsiness; limping after long walks; and pain in the foot, knees or hips. It is therefore important that appropriate treatment commences as early as possible.


There are many causes of flat feet.  Below are the most common causes of flat feet

  • Hypermobility
  • Torn muscles in the legs or feet
  • Fracture or dislocation of foot bones
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
  • Poor foot alignment
  • Injury

Less common causes include

  • Charcot foot; a condition found in diabetics
  • Birth defects
  • Tarsal coalition

Treatment options

Flat feet can be treated with supportive footwear and possible arch padding. More serious cases of flat foot may require orthotics (special shoe inserts) to reposition the bones and joints in the arch of the foot, and surgery may be advised in the most severe cases.

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