Children’s Flat Feet

“Flat feet” or “flatfoot” is a common term for the collapse or disappearance of the arch of the foot – a symptom that can be commonly seen in younger children.

If your child has flat feet, it does not automatically mean that something is wrong. However, it is still important to monitor the development of your child’s feet as they age. Should there be any reason to address your child’s flatfoot to prevent or lessen the severity of future problems, we will want to take that action as early as possible.

What Does a Pediatric Flatfoot Look Like?

An individual with a flatfoot will show very little to no arch. Most of all the bottoms of their feet press against the floor, instead of mainly the ball of the foot and the heel.

While this flat appearance is consistent (“rigid”) in most adults, it can be much more flexible in children. It might be easy to see while your child is standing, but may vanish when they sit down or lift themselves on their toes.

There is still a chance, however, that a child may have a more rigid type of flatfoot as seen in most adults.

Why Children Get Flat Feet

For many children, flat feet simply accompany their development.

Most babies are not born with their arches fully developed. That doesn’t come until later when we start walking more frequently.

Arch development typically begins around age 2 or 3 and finishes around the age of 5 or 6. Around this time frame is when pediatric flatfoot tends to be visible. Once the arches are fully developed, though, the flatfoot tends to go away.

That said, not all cases of flat feet will disappear. In many of these cases, what was once a “flexible” case of flat feet will become rigid, and the potential to cause problems such as persistent heel pain may be present.

a toddler boy and girl walking a path together in the woods

Treating Children’s Flatfoot

The good news for parents is that not every case of flatfoot in children will require treatment. If your child does not have any pain or other symptoms due to the condition, there is not anything that needs to be treated. This is true even if flat feet have continued into adulthood.

However, we will want to monitor your child’s foot development over time to ensure that it is progressing as it should and that no signs of potential trouble arise. Periodic check-ups are a good way to stay on top of this goal.

The flexibility of a child’s developing feet can be used to our advantage if we can catch potential problems early. Treatment responds much more easily at that stage than it does when development is more complete and the condition is more rigid.

Treatment plans for pediatric flatfoot depend heavily on a child’s age, the severity of their condition, and other specific factors. Parts of a plan might include:

  • A set of stretches or exercises are prescribed to build strength and condition areas of the feet that may be at higher risk of pain.
  • The use of custom orthotics to provide cushioning and corrective support, and properly redistributing pressure across the feet while standing and walking.
  • Changes to more accommodating and supportive footwear, which may be made with or without the consideration of custom orthotics.
  • Changes to the types and intensities of activities your child performs. We want to reduce impact stresses on the feet while, of course, still allowing your child to participate in the sports and activities they love whenever reasonable.

The vast majority of flatfoot cases can be effectively addressed via conservative methods of treatment such as those above. Surgery is rarely ever necessary.

Keep Your Children’s Foot and Ankle Health on Track

Great foot and ankle care for your child is not just about resolving problems that arise now but making sure those feet and ankles have the best possible future as well. Monitoring pediatric flatfoot is just one way we help parents achieve those goals.

Schedule an appointment with us by calling (480) 962-4281 or by filling out our online contact form.