Foot arches are an important body structure. They assist with absorbing impact and contributing to the natural rolling motion used by feet when walking or running. As such, parents sometimes become concerned when they realize that their child has flat feet. Here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., we want you to know that there are many cases of pediatric flatfoot that are okay. Of course, it is also important to understand when to bring your child in for treatment.
Child Flat Feet
Flat feet is actually a common condition for many children and adults alike. The key distinction is that it is considerably more prevalent in children and there is a good reason behind this – foot arches take time to develop. When a child is born, he or she begins this life without any arches. This remains the case until around age 3.
Once your child hits year 3, there is still no reason to be concerned if you are not seeing foot arches. At this stage, he or she may have what is known to be “flexible flatfoot.” With flexible flatfoot, the arch has begun developing and will not be noticed while the child is walking or placing weight upon the feet. When he or she stands on tiptoes, however, the arch will appear. Most children have flexible flat feet up until around age 7 or 8.
At that stage, the foot arches begin to harden and develop into their more permanent states. For some individuals, flexible flat feet will stay with them into adulthood. For others, the flatfoot condition will become rigid and may lead to pain or issues.
Many of the children who do not have foot arches don’t actually display any symptoms. When they do, they may display:
Tenderness, cramping, or even pain in feet, legs, and knees
Outward tilting of their heels
Abnormal or awkward gait patterns
Difficulty wearing shoes
Excessive fatigue during physical activity
Withdrawing from sports and physical activities they normally would enjoy
Depending on whether or not symptoms exist, pediatric flat feet is either categorized as symptomatic or asymptomatic. When a child has symptomatic flat feet, there is cause to consider treatment. Otherwise, there is no need to care for the condition.
When we look to diagnose flat foot, we will examine your child’s foot to observe the difference in how it appears while he or she is standing and sitting. We will also perform a gait analysis to evaluate his or her range of motion. This includes paying attention to the knee and hip, since problems in the feet can extend upwards.
X-rays might be beneficial in determining how severe the foot deformity actually is and what needs to be done about it. Some cases require additional tests or imaging to gain a greater understanding of the particular situation.
Treatment is only required in cases where the patient exhibits symptoms. Fortunately, conservative care is often quite effective. One of the best tools we have to treat flatfoot is the use of custom orthotics. When we prescribe these medical devices, we take measurements and factor in your child’s unique gait. These inserts are made explicitly for your child. The types you can purchase in the store may provide some arch support, but should not be relied upon to treat a medical condition.
Pediatric Flat Foot Care in Medford, OR
Most cases of flat feet are not a major issue, but we can help you determine whether or not this is the case for your child. If it turns out that your son or daughter does need treatment, we will carefully review all options and do everything possible to ensure that he or she is not experiencing pain as a result of any arch issues. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., to schedule your appointment today by calling (541) 776-3338 or use our online form.