PT Tip of the Month Archive

Pes Planus (Flat feet)

What is pes planus?

Pes planus is a condition in which a foot has a lower arch (overpronated) than normal or no arch at all. As infants and toddlers we all have flat feet, however as we age typically our foot will develop an arch as the muscles strengthen and the ligaments tighten. For some people, however, the arch never develops and for others the arch decreases due to injury, illness or aging.

Problems with pes planus

Having pes planus does not mean that someone will have pain or dysfunction, but it will increase the likelihood of developing several other conditions. Since the arch is lower than it should be, the biomechanics of the ankle/foot complex change. These changes can cause overstressing of the ligaments and muscles around the foot ankle. Possible conditions from this extra stress may include plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and bunions. Another risk with pes planus is the stress it will place on the posterior tibialis tendon, which helps support the arch. If too much stress is placed in the tendon over time, it will increase the chances of tendon rupture.

Another consideration with pes planus is the problems that can occur up the kinetic chain. In other words, what happens at the foot can influence problems in the knee, hip and even the lower back. For example, the change in mechanics at the foot can lead to over rotation at the hip, which can put extra torque into the knee. Therefore, when addressing knee, hip and back pain, it is important to take the foot into account.

Treatment for pes planus

If your pes planus is not symptomatic or is pain-free, then there is a great likelihood that no treatment is needed. With incidents of pain or symptoms, it is important to address the underlying biomechanical issues with exercises, which may include strengthening, flexibility training or balance training. Another treatment option may include increased arch support - this can be as simple as taping the foot using Low-Dye Taping or may require a custom foot orthotic.

If you have a history of flat feet, foot/ankle pain or knee/hip pain and would like to schedule an evaluation, please call 617-232-PAIN for our Brookline office and 617-325-PAIN for our West Roxbury office.

33 Pond Avenue, Suite 107B Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617) 232-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 232-5196
1208B VFW Parkway, Suite 202 West Roxbury, MA 02132 Tel: (617) 325-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 325-7282