Flatfeet in Children- When to seek help? 

Flatfeet in Children- When to seek help Flatfoot is a condition common to children. In fact, many children start off life with flat feet or have flat feet well into childhood. That is  because infants and young children have incredibly flexible bones and joints, soft ligaments, which allow their feet to flatten when they stand. Some babies have an extra fat pad on the inner border of their feet, hiding their arches.  Most children outgrow the condition by age six. Even those who don’t outgrow the condition don’t always require treatment.

There are two main types of pediatric flatfoot: flexible and rigid.
Flexible flatfoot refers to arches that appear when your child is standing on tiptoes or sitting but disappear when they stand, which most of the time does not cause any pain. 
Rigid flatfoot is when children have no apparent arches regardless of how they sit or stand, though this is rare. Children with this condition have difficulty moving the foot up and down or side to side at the ankle. The rigid foot can cause pain and, if left untreated, can lead to arthritis. This rigid type of flat foot is seldom seen in an infant or very young child. 
Often, pediatric flatfoot may cause symptoms, including:
  • Foot pain
  • Tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Gait changes
  • Toes turning in or outward
  • Difficulty with shoes
  • Lack of energy when participating in physical activity
  • Withdrawal or disinterest in physical activity
If your child has symptoms, we recommend the following treatments depending on their needs:
  • Shoe modifications/ custom orthotics. Orthotics are very useful in reducing pain in children with flat feet.  An important note here: there is no scientific evidence that has shown that orthotics will help to “correct flat feet” and make them have the average arch. So when we use orthotics in children it is not for long term correction but it should alleviate his/her pain.
  • Activity modification- Advice on activities and sports: one thing we always strive as podiatrists is to keep kids active, we know that long term outcomes are so much better for the longer that we’re able to keep them playing sports, dancing or whatever physical activity they love. So with that in mind, we’d rather give advice on how to adapt the way they move rather than stop them moving.
  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
We only recommend surgery in the most severe cases of pediatric flatfoot when conservative treatments fail. 
Clifton Ringwood