If you look at an adult foot from the inside, you'll usually notice an upward curve in the middle. This is called an arch. Tendons, the tight bands that attach at the heel and foot bones, form the arch. Several tendons in your foot and lower leg work together to form the arches in your foot.
When the tendons all pull the proper amount, then your foot forms a moderate, normal arch. When the tendons do not pull together properly, there is a little or no arch. This is called flat foot or fallen arch.
You can easily test yourself to see if you might have fallen arches or flat feet. Follow these three steps:
1. Get your feet wet.
2. Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will show, such as on a concrete walkway.
3. Step away and look at the prints. If you see complete imprints of the bottom of your feet on the surface, then you're likely to have flat feet.
Flat feet in adults can arise from a variety of causes. Here are the most common:
1. An abnormality that is present from birth.
2. Stretched or torn tendons.
3. Damage or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon (PTT), which connects from your lower leg, along your ankle, to the middle of the arch.
4. Broken or dislocated bones.
5. Some health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Nerve problems.
There are many symptoms that can be associated with flat feet. Many people have flat feet and notice no problems or require treatment. But others may experience these symptoms:
1. Feet tire easily.
2. Painful or achy feet, especially in the areas of the arches and heels.
3. The inside bottom of your feet become swollen.
4. Foot movement, such as standing on your toes, is difficult.
5. Back and leg pain.