Foot structure can vary from person to person. One way in which the feet can differ between individuals is with the shape of the arch. The arch is located on the bottom of the foot, the area from the base of the toes to the heel. It is responsible for helping the foot to support the weight of the body.

In some cases, the arch of the foot is abnormally shaped. Flatfeet appear to have an arch that has fallen - the entire bottom of the foot may even touch the ground. On the contrary, high arch feet are when the arch is raised more than usual, causing more weight to be distributed on the heel and the ball of the foot.

Symptoms of Flatfeet and High Arch Feet

Symptoms associated with flatfeet include:

  • For children, pain in the foot, ankle, or lower leg, sometimes only during or after physical activity
  • In adults, feet that ache after standing for long periods of time or after physical activity
  • An ankle that rolls in (both adults and children)

Symptoms associated with high arch feet include:

  • Pain while walking, standing, and running
  • Calluses
  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit
  • A foot that is unstable

Causes of Flatfeet and High Arch Feet

Flatfeet are common in children between the ages of two and three years old. This is because the tissues and muscles that form the arch have not yet developed and are loose. However, in some children, the arch never develops, even when they grow to be adults. Additionally, some adults who have already formed arches can experience an injury that causes the foot to flatten, or the arch can fall with age.

High arch feet are often caused by a nerve condition or an inherited structural bone abnormality.

What to Expect at Your Appointment

During your appointment, your doctor will examine your feet for signs of flatfeet or high arches. Additionally, your doctor will check to see if the arch is still flexible or if it is rigid.

In order to further understand any structural abnormalities, your doctor may want to see images of the bone and muscular structure of the foot. These can be obtained through the following imaging techniques:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

Non-surgical Treatments for Flatfeet and High Arch Feet

When the arch is flexible, non-surgical treatment options typically help relieve pain for both flatfeet and high arch feet.

For individuals with high arch feet, options may include:

  • Investing in orthotic shoe inserts to support the arch
  • Buying shoes that support the ankle
  • Using a brace that supports and stabilizes the foot and ankle

For individuals with flatfoot, the following conservative treatments can help relieve pain:

  • Reducing the amount of activity that causes pain
  • Investing in orthotic shoe inserts to support the arch
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain
  • Stretching exercises and, in some cases, physical therapy

Surgical Treatment for Flatfoot and High Arch Feet and Post-treatment

If the pain is not relieved using non-surgical treatments, your doctor may present you with a surgical treatment option to stabilize the structure of the foot.

Your doctor will choose the procedure or combination of procedures that is best for your diagnosis based on the results from your imaging test results, your age, the amount of activity you do, and a variety of other factors.

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Location Information

Podiatry/ Surgical Clinic: 
106 Irving St. NW G253,
Washington, D.C., 20010
Phone: 202-877-6640
Fax: 202-877- 8010
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