What to Do When Kids Have Flat Feet

Jun 20, 2017

There’s a reason that arches are so commonly seen in nature and used in the construction of bridges and homes—they do a great job spanning distances and carrying heavy loads effectively. The same is true of your foot arches, which flex gently with each step to support your weight and absorb and cushion shocks efficiently.

But foot arches don’t always develop correctly, on time, or even at all. If your child has flat feet, you may be concerned that they will not be able to walk comfortably, participate in sports or activities, and grow up healthy. If you notice flat feet in your child, what should you do?

First, a quick biology lesson. Kids are frequently born with “flexible” flat feet. What this means is that their young arches flatten and collapse when standing, but reappear when not bearing weight. This is not necessarily a problem. Most kids will not feel any pain whatsoever, and about 80 to 90 percent of the time a permanent arch will form by age 5 or 6, as the bones and muscles of the feet continue maturing.

However, this is not always the case. For a minority of kids, the arches never fully develop, remaining flat as they grow older. Furthermore, not all pediatric flatfoot cases are “flexible.” Sometimes flatfoot is rigid, often due to abnormal bone growth and fusion near the back of the foot. These cases are more likely to cause pain and an improper walking gait in your child.

Usually, the best thing you can do for your flatfooted child is to take them to see a children’s foot care specialist like Dr. Sanjay Patel. This does not necessarily mean your child needs treatment, or that you should be fearful. However, even if your son or daughter shows no signs of experiencing pain or being encumbered by physical difficulties walking or playing, it’s much better to err on the side of caution. That way, we can catch more serious problems early, or rule them out so you don’t have to keep worrying.

If your child does need treatment for their flat feet, we can provide a range of approaches tailored to meet their needs—most of which are non-surgical. And even if your son or daughter doesn’t need treatment right now, bringing them in to see Dr. Patel can still provide a “baseline” evaluation that we can refer to later, if your child’s arches do not develop or improve.

At Family Foot Care & Surgery, our entire team is dedicated to providing the best quality pediatric foot care with a warm smile and gentle touch.

Schedule an appointment with us by calling either of our two area offices.