Pediatric Flat Feet

From the moment a child is born, parents are on a constant watch for milestones. First words. First solid foods. First steps. Yet along with the constant eye out for the good stuff, there’s another, more worried eye out for the bad. So what do you do when you notice your child’s arches seem to disappear, or are rarely seen at all? You learn about pediatric flatfoot.

A Flexible Flatness?

In most cases of pediatric flatfoot, a child’s arches will tend to flatten or vanish when he or she stands up from a sitting or lying position, and return upon sitting down or rising up on tiptoes. This is called a “flexible” form of flatfoot, and is not too great a cause for concern.

When we are born, the arches of our feet tend to be undeveloped. Once we get on our feet and begin toddling around, the arches strengthen and develop to support us. Most children will outgrow this condition by the age of five. As long as it causes no pain or problems with gait, then no actions usually need to be taken to treat it. It’s still worth monitoring, however, because there’s always a possibility that flatfoot can stay and become problematic.

A lasting form of flat feet—one that does not change with stance or disappear by a certain age—is referred to as “rigid.” This form has a greater likelihood of resulting in symptoms that need to be addressed.

Rising Up Against Flat Feet

In general, it’s a good idea to receive a podiatric checkup when you notice flat feet in your child, even if they are not in pain. This is just to be sure there are no underlying conditions that might cause future problems.

You should definitely consult with us if there are additional symptoms, such as:

  • Pain, tenderness, or cramping anywhere from along the bottoms of the feet to up the legs
  • Discomfort when walking or being otherwise physically active (some children might show this by pushing away from sports they once enjoyed)
  • A visible change in the way your child walks (their gait)
  • Heels that tilt outward

When coming in for an appointment, bring in a well-used pair of your child’s shoes, if possible. Viewing the pattern of wear on them can provide some helpful clues on how child’s foot and leg mechanics are operating.

Pediatric Flatfoot Treatments

If pain is present, the use of shoe inserts or custom-made orthotics can often provide the support the arch needs to find relief. Older children can also benefit from exercises and stretches that can condition the supportive muscles and structures of the feet.

In some rare cases, conservative approaches to relieving discomfort may fail and surgery might then be considered as an option. These odds are more likely in children with rigid flatfoot. The type of procedure that would be performed greatly depends on the type of flatfoot, its severity, and the age of the child.

Children’s Foot Care in Missoula, MT

From small concerns to painful problems, children’s feet deserve expert attention and care just as much as those that have had many more years and miles placed on them. Dr. Gregg Neibauer and his friendly staff at Alpine Foot & Ankle Clinic will be happy to set up an appointment for you and your child. Give us a call at (406) 721-4007 or use our online contact form to get started.

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