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What are flat feet and plantar fasciitis, and how are they different?

The VA rates flat feet and plantar fasciitis differently (we wrote a blog about it here). These two foot conditions used to be rated under the same code in the 38CFR, the VA's code of federal regulations – but in 2021, they were separated into two different rating codes. But what does that mean, anyway? In short, the following ratings apply: 40% for plantar fasciitis and up to 50% for flat foot.

NOTE: If you're experiencing a foot condition, it might be causing another condition too. Read our related blog: Can physics of body mechanics explain your condition? Here's how our movements are interconnected

Here's what you need to know about the difference between each condition:

Flat feet

According to Mayo Clinic, flat feet is a common condition, occurring when the arches of the feet flatten anytime that pressure is put on them. This collapse of the arch is exactly why it's called "flat feet" – the entire sole of the foot makes contact with the ground. This can be problematic for several reasons, causing pain and muscle fatigue.

  • Causes: Genetics, injury (this can be service-connected), muscle and ligament imbalances.

  • Symptoms: Foot pain, especially in the arch or heel. Muscle fatigue can also occur after standing or walking for long periods of time.

  • Treatment: Supportive footwear, orthotic inserts, physical therapy, and in the most severe cases, reconstructive surgery.

Plantar fasciitis

Mayo Clinic defines plantar fasciitis as: "inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of each foot and connects the heel bone to the toes, known as the plantar fascia." Often occurring first thing in the morning, this inflammatory condition is different from flat feet. It can affect people with various different types of foot arches, both flat and normal.

  • Causes: Long-term strain or excessive stretching of the plantar fascia – typically from running, long-distance walking, or improper footwear

  • Symptoms: Strong pain in the heel, most often in the morning or after sitting for a long time.

  • Treatment: Rest, ice, stretching, night splints, supportive footwear, orthotic inserts, physical therapy – and in the most severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery

Experiencing either of the above? Get documentation for your VA disability benefit claim

Relief is just a claim away when you're prepared with expert medical documentation. We help Veterans with Nexus Letters, DBQs, chart reviews, and more. Put a chart review on your calendar by scheduling online, or review the other ways we can help you here. We're ready to assist you in getting the benefits you need to move forward.

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