How to Determine My Child Has Flat Feet

children not wearing shoes on a swingWhat is Pediatric Flat Foot?

Flatfoot is a condition that can affect children and adults. In children, the arch of the foot shrinks or even vanishes when standing. It reappears when standing on tiptoes or sitting.

Is Flat Feet Normal in Toddlers?

A toddler’s feet may appear to be flat, although they do not actually have the condition of flatfoot. Babies retain a pad of fat near the arch of the foot. Feet arches do not begin to develop until two or three years of age.

What Are the Symptoms of Flat Feet in Children?

Most children will not experience any symptoms. However, some may exhibit pain, tenderness, cramping or tiredness in the foot, within the leg, or in the knee. Some children may excessively trip and fall during activity. The heel may appear to be tilted outward. This can cause awkwardness with walking and difficulty with shoes.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flatfoot is most commonly a hereditary issue. It can also be acquired through injury.

How Are Flat Feet Diagnosed?

Flat feet are often first noticed by the patient or parent. However, it is important to see a podiatrist to verify the underlying cause.

Can Flat Feet Be Prevented?

Most cases of pediatric flatfoot are related to genetic factors and cannot be prevented directly. Wearing shoes with adequate size and support and avoiding foot injury can protect adults from flatfoot.

Will My Child Need Special Shoes or Inserts?

In most cases of pediatric flatfoot, special shoes or supports, called custom orthotics, can help. It is important to see a podiatrist to determine the best treatment.

What Activities Make Flat Feet Worse?

High-impact athletic activities that place pressure on the feet may worsen flatfoot. You should monitor certain activities like running, jogging, and standing for very long periods.

Is Surgery Needed to Repair Flat Feet in Children?

Most cases of flat feet do not require surgery. However, when pain or tenderness persist surgical intervention may be necessary. This is most likely in cases of rigid flatfoot when the arches of the feet are not visible even when the patient sits up or stands on their tiptoes.

Will a Child's Flat Feet Cause Any Long-Term Problems?

In most cases, a child’s flat feet, if left untreated, can have long term effects as an adult, such as foot and ankle pain, knee pain and even lower back pain. It is important to monitor your child and be attentive to the child’s pain level and contact a doctor if physical discomfort is felt.

Is it Safe for a Child with Flat Feet to Exercise?

Assuming no other conditions, children with flat feet can exercise in all the ways other children do. However, it is a good idea to ensure they enjoy a variety of activities and do not spend too much time running, jogging, or standing. If a child reports pain in the feet, ankles, legs, or knees while performing a certain activity, discontinue it right away and consult a physician.

To find out more or to schedule an appointment, contact Northeastern Foot & Ankle.