This post was last updated September 22, 2016\nFlat feet, sometimes referred to as\u00a0adult flat feet\u00a0or\u00a0flatfoot, are painful and progressive deformities affecting the arch of the foot. According to William Saar, DO, the condition results from the tearing and deterioration of the soft tissues in the arch. Repeated wear causes the arch to flatten and the toes to point outward. Learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.\nRisk Factors and Causes of Flat Feet\nFlat feet, or a lack of an arch, are normal among children and toddlers because some arches take longer to develop. In fact, some people never develop an arch and may or may not experience difficulties as a result. These flat feet are known as congenital flat feet, and no treatment is typically needed.\nIn other cases, however, the causes of flat feet range from pre-existing medical conditions such as deterioration of tendons that support the arch, arthritis and diabetic foot disease, injuries, or even the wear and tear of aging.\nAccording to Dr. Saar, any adult over the age of 50 who notices that one foot is getting flatter than the other should seek out care from an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist. Earlier treatment can avoid more extensive surgery in the future.\nFlat Feet Symptoms\nFlat feet often develop over time, and involve symptoms that progress and that may contribute to related conditions. Some patients with flat feet report no physical pain or changes. Others may experience a wide variety of symptoms including:\n\nPain\nSwelling\nDifficulty walking or bearing weight on the feet\nInability to lift the heels off the ground while attempting to rise onto the toes\nBumps on the side of the feet\n\nTreatment for Flat Feet\nThe following treatment options are often recommended by Dr. Saar for flat feet:\n\nRest or avoidance of high impact, repetitive bearing weight in the feet such as running\nAnti-inflammatory pain medications\nOrthotics\nBraces\nSurgery\n\nNonsurgical treatment options like shoe modifications, rest, and medications can be very effective in managing pain and preserving both function and mobility in your feet.\nSurgery for Flat Feet\nIn some cases, when conservative methods are not successful, surgery may be recommended. These surgical options include:\n\nOsteotomy\nLateral Column Lengthening\nTendon Reconstruction\nArthrodesis\n\nFollowing any sort of surgical treatment of flat feet, you will have to eliminate all weight bearing activities for a period of two to three months. This rest period can prevent further difficulties and potential complications.\nWhether you have a new injury, or symptoms that include chronic foot, ankle, or heel pain, swelling, or limited movement, our UPMC Orthopaedic Care foot and ankle experts\u00a0can offer comprehensive treatment options to help you find relief. Visit our foot and ankle services page for more information\u00a0or call 1-866-987-ORTHO to schedule an appointment.