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Flatfeet in Children


Children may be born with flexible flatfoot, a condition in which the arch of the foot disappears when you stand on it. This differs from a rigid flatfoot condition, where the arch is never visible. Most children eventually outgrow flexible flatfoot without any problems. The condition usually does not cause pain, does not prevent child from walking, running or playing sports, and usually will correct itself overtime without any treatment.

A flexible flatfoot is considered normal structurally. The shape of bones and lax ligaments in the young child’s foot prevent a strong arch between the toes and heel (longitudinal arch) on weight bearing. As the child grows and walks on it, the foot’s soft tissues tighten, shaping its arch gradually. Usually, by the age of 6 the condition disappears . If flexible flatfoot persists into adolescence, your child may experience aching pain along the bottom of the foot. Then it is important to consult a doctor.

Flexible flatfoot will often improve as a child gets older and the ligaments in the foot grow and change. If there are no symptoms such as pain or other problems, corrective footwear should not be used. If pain is persistent in children and adolescents with flexible flatfoot, special arch supports may help. Often, buying footwear with good arch supports is all that is needed. If the problem continues, though, there are specially designed supports and footwear your doctor may recommend. Arch supports do not cure or reverse the condition. They do, though, help prevent it from getting worse. For an adolescent with persistent pain, a surgical treatment may be needed.

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