Children's Flat Feet (Pediatric Flat Feet)

Pediatric Flat Feet Treatment, Causes, and Symptoms

When the child’s arch fails to develop, pediatric flat feet may result. In the majority of cases, the condition requires no treatment. However, this is not always true. Much depends on what caused your child’s flat feet. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of flat feet in children and specific treatments by age and symptoms.

What Is Pediatric Flat Feet?

Pediatric flat feet is a condition in which the entire sole of the child’s foot contacts the ground. Also known as pes planus and fallen arches, flat feet occurs when the foot’s arch either fails to develop or collapses.

Flat feet in children is fairly common due to the fact that their bones and joints are still extremely flexible. Most children outgrow the condition by age six. Even those who don’t outgrow the condition (around 15 percent) don’t always require treatment.

If your child is experiencing pain and discomfort though due to flat feet, it is highly recommended that you consult a pediatric podiatrist in order to receive professional advice and treatment.

Flat Foot Treatment for Children by Dr. Mikkel Jarman

Treating Pediatric Flat Feet

At Pediatric Foot and Ankle, we offer a range of treatment protocols for flat feet in children, including custom orthotics as the primary protocol. These custom orthotics are devices that are designed specifically for each individual child to provide the necessary support, stability and alignment to help the foot function correctly. This type of treatment is typically recommended first as it has been found to resolve around 90% of cases without the need for surgery.

Best Treatment for Children's Flat Feet By Age

As mentioned above, surgery may be recommended for certain cases of flat feet in children, but more often than not, custom orthotics will effectively and permanently treat the condition. Custom orthotics are medically prescribed shoe inserts fabricated from a mold of the child’s foot, and the child’s age will determine the best type of orthotic.

Click or tap each tab below for more details on which custom orthotic Pediatric Foot & Ankle would recomend specific to that child’s age.

For children between the ages of one and four, the Surestep SMO (supramalleolar orthosis) is an excellent choice to provide the necessary support and stability while still allowing for normal foot development. This orthosis works by molding to the shape of a child's foot, helping it to remain correctly aligned while they are in motion. It is also designed to be easy to put on and take off, making it convenient for daily use in any situation. Finally, its adjustable features allow it to grow with a child's feet over time, providing them with long-term comfort as their feet grow.

Surestep custom orthotics for flat feet in younger children

For children between the ages of five and eight years old, the Andy Device custom orthotic is an ideal choice. This device is carefully crafted in our specialized Pediatric Orthotics lab, using precise measurements that are taken from a detailed mold of your child's feet. The Andy Device offers superior support, allignment, and comfort for little feet, making it a popular choice among parents. It is designed to be lightweight and fits comfortably in most all shoes, allowing your little one to move around with ease and confidence throughout their day. Furthermore, the custom-made design of the Andy Device ensures that it provides a secure fit for both right and left feet, offering maximum mobility and comfort.

The Andy Device custom orthotic for flat feet in children

For children ages nine to eighteen, custom orthotics might be advised, or a non-invasive surgery called HyProCure might be the recommended solution depending on the initial exam. The HyProCure procedure is a minimally invasive surgery that can be an effective treatment for flat feet in adolescents aged 9-18. The entire process only takes about half an hour and can be done under local anesthesia, or with intravenous sedation if needed. During the surgery, a small 1.5 cm to 2 cm incision is made at the ankle, allowing Dr. Jarman to insert a medical grade titanium stent in order to support and stabilize the ankle bone. Recovery time is typically quite short and patients can return to their normal activities shortly afterwards with minimal discomfort. HyProCure has been proven to be an effective approach to treat this condition, providing long lasting relief of pain associated with flat feet while avoiding unnecessary medications or more invasive surgeries.

Flat Feet Caused by Hyperpronation

Hyperpronation is when the ankle bone turns inward and the outer part of the foot turns outward, resulting in an excessive load or pressure being placed on the inner side of the foot when walking or running. This type of misalignment is commonly caused by a flat arch, which can be seen when weight is transferred to the feet while standing or during physical activity.

Hyperpronation Caused by Misaligned Feet

Pediatric flat feet can also be a symptom of misaligned feet which can cause your child to have an inward rolling of the ankles, also known as Hyperpronation.  Left untreated, this can lead to a myriad of other symptoms including flat feet, foot pain, back pain, knee pain, hip pain, bunions and hammertoe. 

HyProCure is a minimally invasive procedure that corrects this foot/ankle misalignment by inserting a small, titanium stent to help align the bones of the heel and ankle. Dr. Mikkel Jarman with Pediatric Foot & Ankle performs the HyProCure procedure and his practice is an Atlas Affiliated Office. Call (480) 534-7220 or Schedule Online to set up an appointment.

Your child’s feet are their foundation for life.

Looking for a pediatric podiatrist that specializes in treating flat feet in children? 

Dr. Jarman is a board-certified pediatric podiatrist who has been treating children with foot conditions since 2014. He knows the significance of early diagnosis and proper treatment of foot issues like flat feet, and is dedicated to your child’s health. Make an appointment with Dr. Jarman now and let him help you keep your child’s feet healthy!

Common Symptoms of Pediatric Flat Feet

Most of the time, a child with flat feet experiences no symptoms beyond the actual appearance of the foot. In this case, the condition is considered asymptomatic. Most people recognize the appearance of flat feet. Namely, the foot lies flat on the ground, with little to no arch visible. When standing behind the child, you likely can see the outer toes but not the big toe.

Children with symptomatic flat feet may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • An outward tilt at the heel
  • Changes to gait or awkwardness when walking
  • Difficulty moving the foot from side to side or up and down
  • Feeling pain or tenderness anywhere from the foot to the knee
  • Pain or difficulty when wearing shoes
  • Withdrawing from physical activities

If your child experiences any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a pediatric podiatrist.

Diagnosing Pediatric Flat Feet

Pathologies of Foot
Pathologies of Foot

To diagnose pediatric flat feet, the podiatrist examines your child’s foot, looking for differences in its appearance when your child stands versus when he or she sits. In addition, the doctor tests the child’s range of motion and watches him or her walk. To determine the underlying cause, your podiatrist may also examine the lower leg and possibly up to the hip.

Finally, the doctor may order x-rays or other diagnostic images to determine the severity of your child’s condition.

Dr. Mikkel Jarman diagnosing flat feet in children
Digital x-ray machine in office at Pediatric Foot & Ankle

Pediatric Flat Feet Treatment Options

If your child’s condition is symptomatic and requires treatment, there are various nonsurgical options available.

  • Medication: If your child experiences pain and/or inflammation, over-the-counter medications may be prescribed to manage discomfort.
  • Modify activity levels: There may need to be a temporary decrease in activities that cause your child foot pain. Your child may also need to avoid prolonged periods of standing or walking.
  • Orthotics: A custom orthotic fitted inside your child’s shoe helps support structure and improve function.
  • Physical therapy: Your pediatric podiatrist may supervise special stretching exercises, particularly when issues with the Achilles tendon cause the condition.
  • Proper footwear: The doctor should advise you on proper footwear for a child with flat feet.

How Custom Orthotics Can Treat Flat Feet

Is surgery ever required?

In many cases of pediatric flat feet, no treatment is necessary and the child’s feet will typically develop normally over time. However, there are instances when surgical intervention may be the best course of action due to a more severe case of flat feet or an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. In these cases, several factors must be taken into consideration in order to determine the best approach for treatment, such as the degree of deformity present and the type and severity of symptoms being experienced by the patient.

The surgical options available for treating flat feet in children can range from ligament reconstruction to bone realignment procedures. These treatments are designed to restore normal alignment of the ankle joint and reduce tension on ligaments associated with flatfoot deformities. Additionally, certain procedures may involve fusing bones together or inserting a titanium stint for stability. In some cases, special orthotics or braces may also be recommended after surgery in order to further support weakened areas or correct remaining deformities.

In all instances, any decision to pursue surgical intervention should only come after careful consideration and consultation with a physician familiar with pediatric orthopedic surgery and conditions such as flatfoot in children. The goal is always to ensure that every child receives proper medical care tailored to their individual needs. To this end, it is important that any procedure chosen offers long-term benefits while minimizing potential risks associated with surgical treatment options for pediatric flat feet.

The Importance of Seeing a Pediatric Podiatrist

Since flat feet is so common, and the condition is fairly obvious, parents may choose to diagnose and treat their child. Unfortunately, this often results in the parent doing more harm than good. This is particularly true with over-the-counter shoe inserts. We cannot stress enough that you should never buy these. Not only will they NOT help your child develop an arch, improperly used shoe inserts may cause additional problems.

A pediatric podiatrist has the training and expertise needed to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of your child’s foot issue.

Dr. Jarman talking about the importance of good shoes

Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Podiatrist

If your child was born with flat feet or you need treatment or advice, schedule an appointment today with one of our experienced, caring, qualified podiatrists.

Children's Feet Treatment Dr. Mikkel Jarman

Your child’s feet are designed for life

Make an appointment today if your child has Pediatric Flat Feet.