Pes planus

Alternative Names

Pes planovalgus; Flat feet; Fallen arches; Pronation of feet

Definition of Pes planus

Pes planus is a condition in which the arch or instep of the foot collapses and comes in contact with the ground. In some individuals, this arch never develops while they are growing.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Flat feet are a common condition. In infants and toddlers, the arch is not developed and flat feet are normal. The arch develops in childhood. By adulthood, most people have developed normal arches.

Signs and tests

An examination of the foot is enough for the health care provider to diagnose flat foot. However, the cause must be determined. If an arch develops when the patient stands on his or her toes, the flat foot is called flexible and no treatment or further work-up is necessary.

Treatment

Flexible flat feet that are painless do not require treatment. If you have pain due to flexible flat feet, an orthotic (arch-supporting insert in the shoe) can bring relief. With the increased interest in running, many shoe stores carry shoes for normal feet and pronated feet. The shoes designed for pronated feet make long distance running easier and less tiring because they correct for the abnormality.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases of flat feet are painless and do not cause any problems. The outlook for painful flat feet depends on the cause of the condition. Usually treatment is successful, regardless of the cause. Some causes of flat feet can be successfully treated without surgery if caught early, but occasionally, surgery is the last option to relieve pain.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Associate Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/4/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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