Pes Planus, often referred to as flat feet, is a common foot deformity in which the arch of the foot is flattened to the point where it touches the ground, or nearly touches the ground. Ligaments and tendons from the lower leg and the foot form the arches; when these tendons do not pull properly, the foot has little or no arch, resulting in flat feet.
Most of the time, those with flat feet do not experience severe symptoms and treatment is not always necessary. However, those with more severe cases of flat feet may experience symptoms such as:
- Feet tiring out easily
- Aches or pains in the areas of the arches or heels
- Foot swelling
- Difficulty performing certain foot movements, such as standing on your toes
- Leg and back pain
If you are experiencing symptoms of flat feet it is important to seek medical attention, as having the condition may increase the risk of injury or pain to the musculoskeletal system, particularly the lower limbs and lumbar spine. Symptoms of flat feet can vary greatly from case to case.
What Causes Pes Planus (flat feet)?
Flat feet among veterans can be caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes a veteran’s service can cause them to develop flat feet, whereas others may have had their condition aggravated by service. Common causes and risk factors for developing flat feet include:
- A foot abnormality present since birth;
- Torn or stretched tendons;
- Inflammation or damage to the posterior tibial tendon which runs from the lower leg, down to the ankle, and to the middle of the arch of the foot;
- Dislocated or broken bones in the legs or feet;
- Health conditions, for instance rheumatoid arthritis;
- Nerve damage, such as from peripheral neuropathy;
- Those who are obese are also at an increased risk of developing pens planus.
- Partaking in frequent high-impact physical activity, like military training, may also lead to the development of flat feet.
How Does VA Rate Pes Planus (flat feet)?
The Department of Veterans Affairs rates veterans with flatfoot under 38 C.F.R § 4.71a, diagnostic code 5276. Veterans can be rated between 0 percent and 50 percent on a scale of mild to pronounced for flat foot. The rating schedule is as follows:
Pronounced. If a veteran experiences marked pronation, inward displacement of the Achilles tendon on manipulation with spasms, and severe tenderness of the plantar surfaces of the feet, they may receive the highest rating for flat feet if the condition is not helped by shoe supports and both feet are affected.
- Veterans with pronounced bilateral flat feet are rated at 50%.
- Veterans with pronounced unilateral flat foot are rated at 30%.
Severe. If medical evidence shows a clear deformity of the veteran’s foot; there is pain upon use or manipulation; swelling occurs on use; and characteristic callosities exist, a veteran can receive the next highest rating for pens planus.
- Veterans with severe bilateral flat feet can receive a disability rating of 30%.
- Veterans with severe unilateral flat foot can receive a disability rating of 20%.
Moderate. If a veteran’s weight bearing line is over the big toe rather than spread across the entire foot; there is inward bowing of the Achilles tendon; and pain on manipulation or use of the foot, he or she may be rated at 10% (whether the condition be unilateral or bilateral).
Mild. Veterans with flat feet who are able to find relief from their symptoms using arch supports are considered to have a mild, noncompensable condition and will be rated at 0%.