Flat Feet and Your Knees

Researchers find an association between flat feet and knee osteoarthritis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Having flat feet is associated with chronic knee pain, or knee osteoarthritis, in older adults, a recent study finds.

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, occurs when bone joint cartilage wears down, leaving the bones to rub against one another. When this happens, individuals experience pain, swelling, and a loss of motion of the joint.

Factors that put people at greater risk of osteoarthritis include being overweight, getting older, having a joint injury, having abnormally formed joints, having a genetic defect in joint cartilage, and putting repeated stress on joints from jobs or sports.

Health professionals might soon be able to add "flat feet" to the list of risk factors for osteoarthritis, at least with regards to the knee.

In a study of 1,900 adults 50 years of age and older, researchers found that those with the flattest feet were 31 percent more likely than those with higher arches to report near-daily knee pain. Furthermore, those with the flattest feet had a 43 percent increased risk of experiencing damage to cartilage on the inside of the knee.

Even though their findings show an association between the two conditions, K. Douglas Gross, a clinical research associate at Boston University School of Medicine and assistant professor of physical therapy at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, and colleagues did not demonstrate that flat feet directly contribute to osteoarthritis of the knee.

With approximately nine million Americans suffering from knee osteoarthritis, and 46 percent of US adults expected to develop arthritis in at least one knee by 85 years of age, it is important to conduct further research in order to discover and understand the root causes of this painful condition.

The results of this study are published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 31, 2011
Last Updated:
September 23, 2011