Flat-Footed and Pain Free
Many children and adults have flat feet. Doctors call this a flat-foot deformity. Children don't always "outgrow" being flat-footed. Flat feet may not cause any pain. Yet for some people, foot pain is a problem. Many people with flat feet go without any treatment. Others use an insert in the shoe that helps hold the foot in an arched position. These inserts are called orthotics.

Researchers are trying to find out if orthotics really work. Do orthotics support the arch and stabilize a flat foot? If yes, which ones are best?

Orthotics can be pre-made (prefabricated) or specially made for an individual patient. Initial studies are looking at prefabricated inserts. This style of orthotic comes in various shoe sizes, but all styles have the same basic shape.

Orthotics help support the arch and hold the foot in a better position. However, the improvement in foot pain was much less than expected. Even so, many people get relief from foot pain with prefabricated orthotics. It may be that improvement in foot comfort and relief from foot pain is from other factors. For example, orthotics may help by providing better shock absorption. This information may help improve the design of future orthotics.
Harold B. Kitaoka, MD, et al. Effect of Foot Orthoses on 3-Dimensional Kinematics of Flatfoot: A Cadaveric Study. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. June 2002. Vol. 83. No. 6. Pp. 876-879.