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 causes no problems, and do 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
- Congenital problem—condition present at birth
- Family history—conditions that cause flat feet (loose joints) may run in families
Flat feet may develop because of:
- Ruptured or damaged ankle tendon that supports the arch
- Foot injury
- Medical conditions that affect muscle balance
Last reviewedNovember 2012by 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.