Feet usually have an arch on the inside portion of the foot. A flat foot is a foot that has lost or never developed this arch.
Most flat feet are flexible. This type does not cause problems and does not require treatment. Rigid flat feet can cause problems and are best treated.
Normal Foot Arch
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Infants and young children naturally have flat feet. The arch should develop over time. Sometimes, the arch does not develop. It is not always clear why this happens. It may be associated with
- Conditions present at birth, such as excess laxity of joint capsules and ligaments
- Family history
Flat feet may develop because of:
- Ruptured or damaged ankle tendon that supports the arch
- Foot injury
- Medical conditions that affect muscle innervation, such as peripheral neuropathy or diabetes
- Degenerative changes in certain joints
- Ligament damage in the foot
Last reviewedMay 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.