Flat Feet & High Arch Feet | Diagnosis & Treatment | MedStar Health

Your footprint is as unique as you are, and it holds clues about your foot structure. Having high-arched or low-arched feet can put additional stress on your feet and make it hard to walk or stand for long periods of time.

High foot arches (cavus feet) are often caused by a nerve condition or an inherited structural bone abnormality. Symptoms associated with high-arch feet include:

  • Pain while walking, standing, and running
  • Calluses
  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit
  • A foot that is unstable

Low foot arches (flat feet) lack the arch on the inner side of the foot. Without this arch, your entire foot touches the floor when you walk. This can sometimes weaken your ankles and cause lower back pain, as well as other difficulties when you walk. Symptoms associated with flat feet include:

  • Pain in the heel or arch area of the foot
  • Swelling on the inner side of the foot
  • Pain when standing
  • Difficulty standing on tip-toe

Flat feet care at MedStar Health

If you suffer from flat feet, you will find the most experienced and comprehensive care at MedStar Health’s Foot and Ankle Center. All of our orthopedic foot and ankle surgeons are fellowship trained and have years of experience treating problems of the lower extremities. We perform 1,500 foot and ankle surgeries each year, and specialize in minimally invasive approaches that offer faster, less painful recoveries. We have expertise treating the full range of people who suffer from flat feet: From professional athletes, who subject their feet to extremes, to the average person, who simply seeks relief from the symptoms of flat feet.

At the Foot and Ankle Center, we provide for all of your orthopedic needs, not just the basics of your treatment or surgery. Services we provide to help support your recovery include:

  • Radiology

  • Diagnostics

  • Pedorthic and shoe consultants, if you need special orthotics, inserts, or customized shoes

  • Durable medical goods, including braces, crutches, and other equipment you may need during recovery

  • Physical therapy

Our staff expertly coordinates all of these additional services for you. This saves you the time and the challenge of managing them on your own.

We also integrate other specialties into the center, allowing us to provide any additional treatment you may need, such as plastic or vascular surgery.


The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Health can quickly diagnose flat feet by examining the shape of your feet and your muscle strength. In some cases, your orthopedist may want to examine the alignment of your bones using an x-ray.

Our goal during diagnosis is also to determine the cause of your flat feet so we can treat it effectively. Possible causes include:


Treatment for flat feet depends on the symptoms you have, as well as the underlying cause of the flat feet. If you have no symptoms, you do not need any treatment.  If you are experiencing pain, we may recommend:

Nonsurgical treatment: When the arch is flexible, nonsurgical treatment options may help relieve pain for both high arches and flat feet. For high-arch feet, using orthotic shoe inserts, shoes that support the ankle, and a brace to stabilize the foot and ankle can provide support. For flat feet, use of orthotic shoe inserts, anti-inflammatory medication, stretching exercises, and physical therapy may help relieve pain.

Surgical treatment: If nonsurgical treatments do not relieve pain and restore function, your doctor may recommend foot reconstructive surgery to stabilize the structure of the foot. Your podiatric surgeon will recommend the procedure or combination of procedures that are best for you. 

Our expert team of orthopedic surgeons will work with you to determine the most effective surgical procedure for your condition.

Learn more about flat foot surgery at MedStar Georgetown.

Recovery after foot reconstruction surgery

In the days and weeks following surgery, it’s important to keep the swelling down by elevating your foot and taking pain medications as directed by your doctor. Your foot may be in a cast and later fitted with a protective surgical boot. Follow your doctor’s instructions for avoiding bearing weight on your foot. Physical therapy may be recommended to help you regain your strength in the weeks and months following surgery. Your podiatric surgeon will discuss the specific details of your recovery with you before your procedure.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is podiatric surgery covered by insurance?

    Your procedure may be covered by insurance if it is deemed medically necessary. Please contact your insurance company to determine your coverage.

  • How should I prepare for surgery? 

    Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications. You’ll be given special instructions to follow prior to your surgery.

    For more information, visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.

  • How long does it take to recover from foot reconstruction surgery?

    Recovery time depends on the type of surgery and level of correction needed, and it may take a few weeks or a number of months. Your surgeon will discuss a realistic time frame for your recovery.

  • Will I need physical therapy?

    Your doctor may recommend a physical therapy program to help you get the best results from your surgery. Physical therapy can help you regain range of motion, strength, and flexibility after surgery.