Flat Feet and High Arches
We stop foot pain in its tracks.
Structural foot problems such as flat feet and high arches can make it hard to stay active. These conditions may cause pain when you walk. They may even affect other joints such as the knees, hips and spine.
Children and adults can get treatment for arch problems from the board-certified foot and ankle experts at Henry Ford Health System.
Flat foot and high arch care: Why choose Henry Ford?
People choose us for total foot care because we offer:
- Experienced team: Our team includes both orthopedic and podiatric specialists. Their combined expertise means they treat common foot and ankle problems, as well as more complex issues with bones, muscles and joints. Meet our foot and ankle team.
- Complete care: We offer a single source for total foot care. Our experts treat arch conditions present at birth and arch conditions that develop later. We also address related issues, including diabetic foot wounds.
- Customized treatments: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to foot care. We design customized treatment plans around your unique needs and recovery goals to ensure the best outcome.
What are flat feet?
Flat feet, also called fallen arches, occur when tendons and ligaments in the arch of the foot weaken and collapse. Most people with flat feet develop them over time (acquired flat foot) due to injury or arthritis. Others are born with the condition, though they may not notice symptoms until years later.
Symptoms of fallen arches can include:
- Ankle swelling
- Feet that feel tired or weak
- Inability to stand or walk for long periods of time
- Pain in the heel or arch of the foot
Diabetes can lead to a form of flat foot called Charcot foot. This condition occurs when the foot bones break and collapse due to poor blood flow. Learn more about diabetic foot care.
What are high arches?
Like flat feet, high arches are also caused by bone and soft-tissue problems in the feet. However, high arches (cavus foot) are almost always inherited or the result of a neurological condition. Spina bifida, cerebral palsy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are some of the most common causes.
Symptoms of high arches can include:
- Ankle instability
- Pain in ball of foot
- Heel pain
Treatment for flat feet and high arches
We can usually relieve arch pain and provide stability to the foot and ankle without surgery. Our foot and ankle specialists evaluate your feet and discuss your goals for treatment. They then create a customized care plan for your needs.
Conservative treatments may include:
- Custom shoe inserts
- Soft cast or boot
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
Foot reconstruction surgery
People who continue to experience foot pain after trying nonsurgical treatments may need surgery. Since flat feet and high arches are both structural problems, foot reconstruction surgery may correct the arch.
Surgical options include:
- Tendon transfer: The damaged tendon is removed from the foot and replaced with a healthy tendon from the same foot.
- Tendon release: A shortened tendon is cut to allow more range of motion. This procedure is usually performed for high arches.
- Osteotomy: The bones of the foot are cut and reconstructed to create the arch. This procedure is usually performed with a tendon transfer.
If you’re a candidate for surgery, we take the time to explain the risks and benefits of each procedure. We also tell you what to expect during recovery so you can decide if surgery is the right choice for you.