Foot arches are not ordinarily observable when a child is born. Even as the child continues his or her development during early toddler years, foot arches might still not be observable because they are obscured by thick fat pads or haven’t starting taking shape yet. The solid, flat foundation provides added stability as young ones take their first steps while learning how to walk.
Pediatric flatfoot is a condition that becomes apparent as foot bones start hardening and the soft tissues become stronger. At this point, some children’s feet maintain the flatness instead of developing the curved bone structure that constitutes a normal foot arch. Not to fear, though; there are many occasions when this is not a problem.
Types of Flat Feet in Children
During arch development, many children have a flexible variation of flatfeet. This is evident when a child does not appear to have arches when he or she is standing normally, but they can be seen when his or her leg are dangling when sitting. They are also seen when a child is standing on tiptoe.
Flexible flatfoot is not usually a painful condition. The low arches do not stop your child from walking, playing, or engaging in normal childhood behavior. In fact, the condition generally resolves on its own before your child turns ten years old or so. Additionally, he or she may have no pain or symptoms even if the foot arches do not completely develop.
For some young patients, though, we find that a short Achilles tendon or a tarsal condition—an abnormal fusion of bones found in the hindfoot—can exacerbate the flatfoot condition. These inherited traits usually lead to a situation where the joints in the foot become inflexible and the foot arches are simply not present, even while standing on tiptoe. In such a condition, there may be pain and stiffness as your child grows and bones start solidifying, but this is not always the case.
How Pediatric Flatfoot Is Treated
In the case of a flexible flatfoot condition that does not have symptoms, there is no need for treatment and we may simply want to monitor the condition to ensure nothing happens. If you believe your child has flatfoot, but he or she does not complain of painful symptoms, you may want to note other indications that something is wrong. Avoiding sports and physical activities that had previously been enjoyed or an unwillingness to run and play games with friends are examples indicating a possible need for treatment.
If your child complains of feet that ache following physical activity, bring him or her to our Sacramento, CA office for a professional checkup. We will evaluate your child’s foot structure and any symptoms that are causing your concern or worry. For many young patients with flatfoot issues, an over-the- counter arch support will provide adequate relief from painful symptoms. We typically do not recommend using arch supports that are rigid for children who have flatfoot, so you may need to pick up inserts that contain gel.
When the core issue is a tight, shortened Achilles tendon, stretches and physical manipulation (massages) can reduce and alleviate pain and soreness. These nonsurgical treatment methods are typically quite helpful, but rare cases may require surgery for optimal relief. If this is the case, we will discuss the situation so you can have the information necessary to make the best decision possible.
Surgical procedures can be used to address tight Achilles tendons or tarsal coalition, but we do not use these treatment methods unless a child is older (and physical development is complete) and conservative care methods have been exhausted without producing desired results.
Exceptional Pediatric Foot Care Services in Carmichael, CA
Monitoring pediatric flatfoot is just one of the many child foot care services that we provide for our young patients in the greater Sacramento, CA community. If you would like more information on this subject, give us a call at (916) 961-3434 and we will be glad to help. You can also schedule your appointment with McDowell Podiatry Group online.