Pediatric Flat Feet
Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Children's Flat Feet
How Does a Child Get Flat Feet?
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 Are Flat Feet in Children?
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.
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.
Pediatric Flat Feet Surgery
There are some cases where conservative treatment options are ineffective. In such cases, surgery becomes a viable and often highly effective option.
Flatfoot reconstruction surgery includes a number of procedures to correct dysfunction and issues caused by flat feet.
- Bone cuts and realignment
- Joint fusion
- Ligament reconstruction
- Tendon repair and transfer
To determine which procedure is needed, your Dr. Mikkel Jarman will first determine the underlying cause of your child’s flat feet.
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.
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
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.
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
The Andy Device™ Flat Feet Treatment for Children
The Andy Device™ Pediatric Orthotic for Flat Feet is an innovative, at-home solution for flat feet in children. The Andy Device™ is a custom molded arch support orthotic that helps realign children’s feet into a more normal anatomical position. This reduces abnormal forces and stress on the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot.
The kit includes easy to follow instructions and real human support via phone, email or text.
- Custom Molded Design Specifically From Your Child’s Feet for Maximum Effectiveness.
- For Ages 4-18.
- Easy to Follow Instructions.
- Real Human Support.
- Free Shipping.
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.
Pediatric Flat Feet FAQ's
Flat feet are common in infants and toddlers up to age 3-4 as the arch develops. If flat feet persist beyond age 5-6, it may be a concern requiring evaluation.
Typically flat feet are normal in young kids and not harmful. Beyond age 5, persistent flat feet could cause problems like foot pain, improper gait, or increased injury risk during sports if not well supported.
Flat feet can be caused by loose ligaments, low muscle tone, excess body weight, or bone abnormalities present at birth. Sometimes the cause is unknown. Family history can play a role.
Children with flexible flat feet and no pain usually need no treatment. Supportive, well-fitted shoes are recommended. Custom orthotics or braces may be needed for rigid flat feet causing problems.
There are no definitive ways to prevent normal development of flat feet in infants and toddlers. Maintaining a healthy weight, proper footwear, and activity modifications can help manage flat feet in older children.