If your child is an infant, he definitely has flat feet! All babies are born with extra fat even in their feet so it looks like they have no arch (that space between the ground and the inside middle of your foot when you’re standing up). By the time they’re about 5 or 6 years old, most kids have developed an arch in each foot.
A small percentage of kids, however, just won’t outgrow their natural flat feet. Flatfoot can be an inherited trait that a person can simply thank their ancestors for and live with throughout their lifetime.
Are flat feet a problem?
The answer is “sometimes.” There are two categories of flat feet:
- Flexible. With flexible flatfoot, you can see that the foot has a noticeable arch when it’s not bearing the child’s weight. As soon as she stands up, the arch disappears. Flexible flatfoot is really common. Kids will either live with flexible flatfoot and incur no problems whatsoever or go on to develop a normal arch. Since flexible flatfoot usually doesn’t cause pain or other symptoms, there’s no treatment necessary.
- Rigid flatfoot means there’s no discernible arch at any time. A child has symptoms such as difficulty moving the foot and feet that tire easily. Since rigid flatfoot does cause pain, early treatment is recommended.
Treating pediatric flatfoot
Board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has years of experience diagnosing and treating flat foot in children. At his office in Centreville, Virginia, he will examine your child’s feet to determine if flatfoot is at the root of his or her pain. Recommended treatment may include rest, stretching, physical therapy, shoe modifications, shoe inserts (orthotics) and anti-inflammatory medication.
Sometimes, flat feet will develop in a child who is overweight. The feet can become so stressed from the excess pressure placed on them by extra pounds that they literally flatten out. Dr. Wilhelm might recommend that a child lose weight in order to reduce the stress and ease the pain of flat feet.