Pes planus (flat feet) is described as a foot deformity where the arch (medial longitudinal arch of the foot) is underdeveloped.
If left untreated, flat feet can result in foot, ankle, knee, hip and back injuries or pain. It should be noted that flat feet alone, may not be a problem at all and there may not be an increased risk of complications, however each individual should be evaluated to understand how their flat feet effect their posture and movement.
The pathology for why the arch profile has not developed or has diminished over time is debatable. There are a variety of different anatomical deficiencies that can lead to a pes planus foot type. The degree of the flat foot deformity also varies. Often, an individual may present signs of flat feet but may be asymptomatic for years. Many individuals go their entire life without any intervention. Young toddlers often have flat feet that will develop as the intrinsic muscles, bones and ligaments further develop. By 7-8 years old, the foot typically will start to take on a more normal shape.
Treatment includes a close evaluation of the foot and entire kinetic chain. Correction can often be achieved with exercise, footwear and appropriately constructed orthotics. Refer to our “What Foot Type Are You” section to determine if you have a flat foot.