Flat Feet in Childhood
There are many exciting moments when it comes to raising a child, and one of the most iconic is your baby’s first steps. We know proud parents’ eyes are watching like eagles not to miss this event, and they’ll likely continue to watch as baby grows even more mobile. As they keep watching, though, parents might begin to notice something a bit odd about their little one’s feet. Their arches might disappear when standing and reappear upon sitting down. This is children’s flatfoot, also known as pediatric flatfoot. And while it’s worth keeping an eye on, it isn’t likely to spoil any special milestones.
Building the Arches
Those soft little baby feet you see upon birth don’t have the strong arches of an adult. It often takes time for the arches to develop, and as walking begins, this development tends to accelerate.
When the arches pull their disappearing act when standing and reappear when sitting or on tiptoes, this is referred to as flexible flatfoot. Most children with this condition were born with it, but parents tend not to have any chance to notice it until those feet begin to bear weight. This is perfectly fine, too.
The Flat-out Truth
Children tend to outgrow flatfoot by the age of five, as their arches catch up and strengthen. They often suffer no symptoms from the condition, either. We still recommend that you bring your child in for a checkup if you notice flexible flatfoot—just to make sure no additional problems are developing—but most cases of flexible children’s flatfoot will not require treatment.
Other times, however, flatfoot can cause problems. Some children may have pain or cramping in their feet or lower legs that makes them more reluctant to engage in activities they once enjoyed. You might also notice the heels tilting outward or a change in your child’s walking gait. There is also the possibility that a child’s flexible flatfoot will turn rigid as he or she grows older, which can result in worse pain and difficulties.
If children’s flatfoot is presenting symptoms or a risk of rigidity, it needs to be addressed. A treatment plan might include a temporary change to a child’s activity level to avoid actions that might cause pain, but also the addition of stretching exercises or other forms of physical therapy to help provide relief to hurting areas. Custom orthotics or shoe inserts might also be prescribed to properly redistribute weight across the feet and avoid pain.
Surgery is rarely needed in these situations, but might be a consideration in certain rigid cases or if conservative treatments don’t help. The form of surgery discussed would depend on the type and severity of the flatfoot as well as the child’s age.
Your child’s feet will propel their future. If you see signs of flat feet in your child, whether flexible or not, call Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper at (812) 481-7200. Dr. Timothy Barry can check your child’s feet for signs of trouble, and keep periodic track of the condition to make sure it doesn’t begin to turn troublesome. And if flat feet have resulted in complications, we will provide the best in kindness and care for your child. Don’t lose a moment to your child’s foot pain; let us help!