Flat Foot in Kids: Types, Causes, Signs & Treatment

Flat Feet in Children – Reasons, Symptoms & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

When you become parents, there are a million things that you may worry about your kid. What your kid eats, his growth, reaching various milestones etc. may be on top priority but has it ever occurred to you that kids may sometimes have problems with their feet too. If you think what may probably go wrong with the feet, well, flat feet is one such condition that you should certainly not ignore. If you are not much aware of this condition, reading this post may prove to be informative.

What Are Flat Feet?

Flat feet or pes planus is a condition in which your kid does not have an arch in all of his foot, or most part of his foot may touch the ground. As the name is suggestive enough, this problem is associated with the feet, but actually, it is the heel where the problem initiates. When your child has flat feet, his heel bone rotates inwards, causing your child’s feet to collapse inwards. This may hamper the proper distribution of body weight, and your child may walk using the inner part of his foot/feet.

Types of Flat Foot in Children

Following are some common types of flat foot in children:

1. Flexible Flatfoot

This is the most common type of flatfoot. This hypermobile flatfoot may not cause any disability in your child. Also, this condition may affect both the feet of the child and in most cases, no treatment may be required.

2. Flexible Flatfoot With Short Achilles Tendon

This condition usually affects both the feet, and the child may experience extreme pain and discomfort. However, it is a very rare occurrence in children.

3. Rigid Flatfoot

This condition may affect a single foot or both the feet. It is seen that 1 out of 4 children suffering from this condition may experience severe pain and discomfort. It is more prevalent in children who suffer from issues related to their bones or feet.

Causes of Flat Feet in Kids

Here are some common reasons that may lead to this condition in children:

  • If your kid has low muscle tone, it can make his muscles too stretchy. When the muscles become too stretchy, they may allow movement beyond its normal range of motion. This may make your child’s heels to rotate inwards and remove the arch.
  • In case your child has high muscle tone, it may result in shortening of Achilles’ tendons. All this may put pressure on the child’s feet, and his feet may get pulled inwards.

Symptoms of Flat Feet

Here are some symptoms that may help you establish this condition in your child:

  • Your child may face difficulty with shoes.
  • Your child may experience outward tilting of his heel.
  • Your child may face difficulty in walking.
  • Your child may exhibit no enthusiasm for participating in physical activities.
  • Your child may experience cramping, pain or tenderness in his feet, knees or legs.

Problems Faced by Kids Due to Flat Feet

As trivial as it may appear, flat feet may lead to complications and following are some of the problems that your child may face:

  • Abnormal or improper walking style
  • Muscle weakness
  • Improper body alignment
  • Improper foot development
  • Joint pain

Diagnosis of Flat Feet

Your kid’s doctor will physically examine your kid’s feet and look for the type of flat feet your child may be affected with. Establishing the type of this condition may help in diagnosing the correct line of treatment. Your doctor may also want to know if anyone in your family suffers from the condition, in order to gauge if it is because of genetic glitches. Also, you may be asked whether or not your child suffers from any muscular or neurological disease. The doctor may like to examine the kind of your shoes your child wears. Your child may be asked to do some movements, to check his Achilles’ tendons. X-rays, other kinds of imaging or tests may be conducted to see the severity of the condition.

Treatment Flat Feet in Children

The course of treatment may be established after ascertaining the severity of your child’s condition. If your kid experiences no discomfort or pain, he may not be suggested any treatment option; however, he may be reviewed on a regular basis. If your kid shows symptoms, your doctor may recommend some of the following options:

1. Non-Surgical Treatment

Here are some non-surgical treatment options:

  • Medicines – Anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed to reduce pain and discomfort.
  • Shoe Modifications Or Children’s Insoles – The expert or the doctor may recommend particular kinds of shoes or insoles to reduce your kid’s discomfort. Your child might need to use them for a few months to even longer time, depending on the type or severity of the condition.
  • Physical Therapy – Some stretching exercises for flat feet in children may help in providing relief to your child.
  • Orthotic Devices – Sometimes, the use of certain orthotic devices may be recommended to improve the foot function and support the foot structure or provide support to the arch for flat feet in kids.

Treatment Flat Feet in Children

2. Surgical Treatment

If the non-surgical methods do not work or your child’s condition is severe, surgery may be one of the resorts. The surgical procedure may depend on the type and degree of the deformity that your child may be suffering from.

Most doctors may recommend the wait and watch approach because, by the time your child is ten years of age, his flatfoot issues may become okay. However, if it doesn’t become okay or you see your child’s condition becoming worse, get professional help.

Also Read: How to Deal with In-toeing and Out-toeing in Children

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