How are Flat Feet Diagnosed?


A doctor can diagnose flat feet by observing your feet and pinpointing the area of your pain. They may ask you to stand on your toes and test the strength of your ankles. The wear pattern on the bottoms of your shoes may also reveal information. 
Imaging tests may be used to diagnose the cause of your foot pain, including: 

  • X-rays. Images of the bones and joints in the feet can help evaluate alignment and detect arthritis
  • Ultrasound. If an injury is suspected, sound waves can produce quick, dynamic images of the soft tissue in the foot
  • CT scans can provide a detailed 3D x-ray image of the foot
  • MRI. Using a powerful magnet and radio waves, an MRI produces a more precise image of the foot’s bone and soft tissues

How are Flat Feet Treated?


If you are seeking how to fix flat feet or find pain relief, there are a number of treatment options available, including physical therapy, orthotics, flat feet exercises, and, in rare cases, surgery. An orthopedist can help you decide which treatment is best for you. 

Physical therapy

A physical therapist can treat your flat feet with certain muscle lengthening and strengthening exercises. They can also recommend certain lifestyle changes, such as how you walk and stand (posture), and work to strengthen your core. 


Either over-the-counter or custom-made foot orthotics (insoles) can be a real game changer when it comes to flat feet correction. If needed, an orthopedist can write a prescription for custom foot insoles that provide targeted support to your feet to alleviate pain.   

Flat feet exercises

Several exercises for flat feet can help with discomfort. Many foot exercises for flat feet can be done at home, including: 

  • Stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and calf muscle
  • Heel raises. Go up on your tip toes, hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower down
  • Toe walking and heel walking. Try walking across the floor on just your heels, then walk back up on your toes as if wearing high heels. This will help strengthen the feet and ankles.
  • Arch massage. Massage the arch area by rolling back and forth while pushing against a roller ball or even an ice-cold bottle of water under the foot


People rarely need surgery for flat feet. But, in severe cases, a surgical procedure can be done to repair or reconstruct the tendons and ligaments and realign the bones that support the foot arch. Surgery is typically done to prevent the worsening of deformity, pain, and arthritis in the future.



While standing, check the inner sides of your feet. With normal feet, you should have an arch—raised between the bottom of your foot and the ground. You have flat feet if your foot is flat against the ground with no space.

Fallen arches can be inherited or, very commonly, caused by inflammation or tearing in the leg tendon that supports the arch (posterior tibial tendon).

Flat feet can be corrected by surgery by realigning the bones and repairing or reconstructing damaged ligaments and tendons supporting the arch. However, even surgery cannot always completely or permanently correct flat feet.

Foot exercises, orthotics, physical therapy, and, in extreme cases, surgery are all options to help alleviate pain from flat feet.

Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Flat Foot Treatment

NewYork-Presbyterian is home to some of the nation’s best feet and ankle specialists. Our orthopedists can evaluate your flat feet symptoms and provide individualized treatment options, including advanced surgical procedures for extreme cases. 

For help with flat feet discomfort, contact NewYork-Presbyterian today for a consultation with one of our top-notch orthopedists.