Pediatric flatfoot is a condition that can present itself during the growth and development of a child’s feet. It is not a reason for panic, but being watchful of the condition and monitoring it through your child’s development can help ensure it causes few-to-no problems should it persist.
What is Pediatric Flatfoot?
As with flatfoot in adults, pediatric flatfoot shows as the arch of the foot collapsing while a child is standing. Most or all of the bottom of the foot will press against the floor.
What makes pediatric flatfoot different from most adult cases is how it tends to be flexible. Your child’s arches may vanish while standing or walking but may reappear again when they sit or rise onto their tiptoes. Some children, however, may have a more rigid, inflexible flatfoot.
What Causes Pediatric Flatfoot?
As any parent can tell you, kids grow quickly. Most of us are not born with arches in our feet but begin to develop them around age 2 or 3. Full development tends to finish around age 5 or 6.
Most children who have pediatric flatfoot will see the condition resolve naturally on its own as they grow. However, it is still very much worth monitoring overtime to ensure this resolution does happen.
Sometimes pediatric flatfoot will be more rigid from the outset or remain after the arches have normally fully developed. Once your child is more mature, even flexible flatfoot tends to become more rigid – essentially becoming adult flatfoot.
How is Pediatric Flatfoot Treated?
The good news is that, if flatfoot is not causing your child any pain or other symptoms, then it very likely does not need to be treated at all. This is true whether your child’s case of flatfoot is flexible or rigid, and many people have flat feet that do not cause them any harm.
However, if your child is already experiencing such problems, or there is potential for them to, it will always be best to identify these symptoms and address them as soon as possible. The more flexible a child’s feet are when we start treatment, the less challenging it will be for us to achieve relief and the best results. This is why a consistent monitoring plan is so important.
If we do need to take action, our plan for treatment may largely depend on your child’s age, the severity of the condition, and other specific needs. Parts of a treatment plan may include, but are not limited to:
- The use of orthotics in order to provide cushioning and corrective support to your child’s feet where needed. (Orthotics might be recommended for some cases of asymptomatic flatfoot as a preventative measure.)
- Assigned stretches and exercises to help build up strength and conditioning in vulnerable areas of the foot.
- Changes to more accommodative and supportive shoes.
- Changes to activities that place less impact stress on the feet (while trying to interfere with what your child loves to do as little as possible).
The primary goals will be to relieve any current pain and discomfort, as well as reduce the risks of complications into adulthood. Most cases can be addressed through conservative methods of treatment, and the need for surgery is rare.
Keep Pediatric Flatfoot Out of Your Child’s Future
Although most cases of pediatric flatfoot do not result in any problems for a child, we always want to be watchful for the kids that do start to develop complications. Through proper check-ups and prompt care, we help children stride into much more comfortable adulthood than they might have otherwise had.
We will always be happy to evaluate your child’s foot and ankle health and answer any questions you may have regarding their development or other concerns. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (989) 695-6788 or by filling out our online contact form.