Flat Feet in Children

Flat Feet in Children

diagnosing pediatric flatfootDiagnosing Pediatric Flatfoot

Most babies have flat feet when they are born, because the foot arch does not develop until about age five. Pediatric flatfoot refers to the congenital foot structure in which the arches never develop. They may appear when your child stands on tiptoe or lets the feet hang down when sitting, but as long as they put any weight on them, the feet look flat.

Expert foot specialists can usually diagnose the problem with a simple examination. We look at your child’s feet as he or she sits, stands, and walks to see how they appear in these situations. We may also have them stand on tiptoe to see if the arches reappear, and manipulate the feet to see how flexible they are. Some cases may warrant an exam of the legs and hips to see if there are other related issues that need to be addressed. Observing the wear patterns on the soles of their shoes can help identify the condition as well.

Are Flat Feet in Children a Problem?

Depending on the type of condition, your child’s low arches may or may not ever cause trouble for them. Flexible flat feet can be symptom-free for many children, and may never need any treatment. If foot structure is rigid, however, and does not accommodate the force of their steps, their feet may ache along the bottom, or they may have cramping in their legs.

Sometimes this condition causes the heel to tilt outward and the ankles to fall inward. This can put extra pressure on muscles, tendons and ligaments, resulting in pain while walking. Your child may develop a change in gait or stride to counteract the tilting or the pain. That may make them more reluctant to be active, and cause fatigue when they are.

Treating Pediatric Flatfoot

If your child has no symptoms, there is no need for treatment at all. We will just continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate periodically to see if anything has changed. At some point, we may recommend custom foot orthotics if we feel it will prevent problems from occurring.

On the other hand, painful feet that make it hard to wear shoes or participate in normal activities or sports are not good for your child. Set up a visit at our office and we will see what can be done to make him or her comfortable and improve foot function. We may use one of several conservative treatment options, including:

  • Reducing activity that causes pain until it has subsided
  • Medications for a limited period of time to get over the worst of the pain
  • Supervised stretches that will help alleviate pain and strengthen the feet
  • Explaining the right kind of supportive shoes needed for your child’s foot
  • Using over-the-counter or custom orthotics to counteract poor biomechanics

Don’t worry too much about pediatric flat foot if your child has no symptoms, but if they do hurt, don’t wait too long to get help. Pain is not normal and shouldn’t keep your child from being active if there is a solution available to take care of it. Call Ottawa Foot Practice at (613) 595-9700 and set up an appointment at our Deakin Street office in Ottawa, ON. You can also request one online, as well as keep in touch via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest in foot care news and tips.