Flat Foot



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.

Causes may be:

  • Rupture or damage to the tendon that supports the arch
  • Health problems that affect the muscles or nerves in the foot
  • Ligament damage in the foot
  • Changes in certain foot joints over time

Risk Factors

In newborns, flat foot is more common in girls. In children who are 3 to 8 years old, it is more common in boys. In adults, it is more common in women after age 55 years of age.

Other things that may raise the risk in children are:

  • Loose joints
  • Sitting on his or her bottom with both knees bent in a 'w' shape
  • Delayed nerve and muscle development
  • Obesity



Some people may not have problems. Those who do may have:

  • Pain
  • A stiff foot
  • Foot weakness
  • Calluses, blisters, or skin redness on the inner side of the foot
  • Balance problems
  • Problems walking or running


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the feet. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



People without symptoms may just need to be monitored. People who do have symptoms may need to see a doctor who treats feet. Options are:

  • Physical therapy and exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the foot
  • Shoe inserts to support the foot or shoes with a good arch support
  • Braces to treat flat feet caused by nerve or muscle problems

People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery to create an arch.


There are no known guidelines to prevent flat foot.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.