When you squeeze those adorable feet of your baby or toddler, they probably feel like malleable little balls of dough, and that’s normal. As children get older, though, most develop an arch in their feet or the raised portion of the bottom of the foot.
Its purpose is to help distribute our weight more evenly and act as shock absorbers when we perform activities like walking, running, and jumping.
Children can develop a condition called pediatric flatfoot when their arch should be forming as they age, but it doesn’t.
The expert podiatry team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers helps children and adults with flat feet get relief from any symptoms they’re experiencing and recommends treatments that can heighten their comfort and increase their mobility.
Often, children with flat feet don’t exhibit symptoms other than visibly flat feet, but sometimes when a child’s arches partially or completely collapse, they might describe these symptoms to you:
If movement becomes a problem, you might also notice that your child passes on participating in sports or becomes less active overall.
The most important step you can take to help your child if they’re living with flat feet is to seek care from an experienced, caring podiatrist, and every team member falls into that category!
First, your child’s podiatrist carefully evaluates their feet by performing a detailed physical evaluation, including examining their feet while standing and sitting and ordering imaging tests. They will also examine the wear patterns on the bottoms of your child’s shoes. Because a child’s weight is unevenly distributed when they have flat feet, excessive wear in the heel will be visible.
It might be that your child’s condition is something called flexible flat foot, where their arch isn’t visible when they stand, but it appears when they sit down or stand on tiptoes. Typically, most children outgrow this condition, but your podiatrist can offer treatment options if discomfort and other symptoms emerge.
Rigid flat feet is the other iteration of the condition, where your child’s arch remains flat and stiff whether sitting or standing.
For treating any discomfort related to their flat feet, we may recommend the following:
Your child’s shoes are important to get right because the wrong ones can exacerbate their symptoms. When you go shoe shopping, look for styles with a sole supportive of the arches and somewhat flexible and laces or straps that allow for a secure but not-too-tight fit. Steer clear of unsupportive styles like flip-flops, jellies, and ballerina flats. Shoes with wide-toe boxes are also good.
For some children, surgical correction may be advised, but this is quite rare.
It's critical for a child with flat feet to be seen and treated by a skilled podiatrist sooner rather than later because chronic pain and instability are possibilities as they grow into adulthood.
Untreated flat feet can cause a multitude of other painful foot problems, including hammertoe, bunions, foot, ankle, leg, and back pain, and plantar fasciitis. Preventive care minimizes the chances of future complications.
Don’t delay in seeking care if your child is living with flat feet. They will depend on their feet their entire lives — better to get the best start possible now, with excellent pediatric podiatry care.
Call our Belle Glade, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, or Jupiter location to schedule an appointment for our child, or book one online, to ensure their foot health and comfort. We know how busy you and your family are, so we offer early morning and evening appointments on weekdays and Saturdays for your convenience.