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.