fixing flat feet in children

Lee’s Summit Podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster Shares What Parents Need to Know About Treating Flat Feet in Children

While you might brush off flat feet as a passing phase of childhood development, the truth is that early intervention is crucial for preventing potential long-term complications. Lee’s Summit podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster often recommends HyProCure as a permanent solution for kids with flat feet.

How Children Develop Flat Feet

Babies are born with a thicker fat layer in the arch area of their feet. This gives the appearance of a flat foot. As a result, it's not usually a cause for concern if your infant or toddler has flat appearing feet.

Typically, as this fat layer thins out, most children will have a better arch appearance by their fifth or sixth birthday. As their muscles and ligaments strengthen, the arches should continue to develop and become more pronounced. However, some children continue to have flat feet due to one or more of the following factors:

  • Genetics. Your child is more likely to have flat feet if one or both parents or grandparents also have the condition.
  • Muscle weakness or tightness. Kids who have certain muscular abnormalities or who are predisposed to tight Achilles tendons may be more prone to flat feet because these conditions can affect the development of their arches.
  • Obesity. Excess weight can place additional stress on the feet and contribute to the flattening of arches.
  • Poor footwear. Shoes with inadequate midfoot support may fail to provide the necessary stability for growing feet.
  • Activity levels. Participating in activities that involve prolonged standing or high-impact movements can increase the risk that your child will have flat feet.

How to Tell if Your Child Has Flat Feet

Recognizing flat feet in children can be challenging, especially since the condition may not always present obvious symptoms. Here are some tips to help you determine if your son or daughter should see a podiatrist for flat feet treatment:

  • Take a close look at your child's feet while they are standing. In children with flat feet, the arches may appear lower or even completely flattened, causing the entire sole of the foot to make contact with the ground.
  • Wet the bottom of your child's feet and have them step onto a piece of paper. Examine the footprint left behind. In kids with normal arches, the middle part of the foot will appear narrower, while those with flat feet may leave a footprint that shows the entire sole of the foot.
  • Pay attention if your child complains of foot pain, particularly after physical activity. Children with flat feet may experience discomfort in the arch area, heels, or ankles, especially during walking or running.
  • Watch for changes in how your child walks. Flat feet can affect the way your child walks, causing them to roll their feet inward (overpronation) or rotate their hips outward. 
  • Check your child’s shoes. Signs of uneven wear, particularly along the inner edge of the sole, may indicate overpronation—a common characteristic of flat feet.

Why Early Intervention Is Crucial

Many parents make the mistake of thinking that flat feet aren’t a cause for concern if a child doesn’t seem to be overly bothered by the condition. However, early intervention can prevent future complications and ensure optimal foot health as your son or daughter grows.

Untreated flat feet increase a child’s risk of developing the following issues as an adult:

  • Arch pain. The absence of proper arch support in flat feet can lead to strain and overuse of the muscles and ligaments in the arch area.
  • Bunions. Untreated flat feet can alter foot mechanics and increase the risk of developing bunions, which are bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe.
  • Hammer toes. Flat feet are a risk factor for developing hammer toes, a condition where the toes become bent or curled due to muscle imbalance and pressure on the toe joints.
  • Knee and hip pain. The altered biomechanics associated with untreated flat feet can affect not only the feet but also the alignment and function of the knees and hips.
  • Lower back pain. Flat feet can contribute to poor posture and spinal alignment, potentially leading to lower back pain.

How HyProCure Treats Flat Feet in Kids

HyProCure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that addresses the underlying cause of flat feet by stabilizing the misalignment between the ankle and hindfoot. By inserting a small titanium stent into the naturally occurring space between the ankle and heel bones, HyProCure restores proper foot alignment and allows the arches to function optimally.

The HyProCure procedure has been safely performed on children as young as three. No pins, screws, or drills are required, and the procedure takes just 45 minutes. Most patients report minimal discomfort post-surgery and are able to return to their regular activities within a few weeks.

Individual results will vary, but we’ve seen HyProCure produce impressive results for children with flat feet. Recently, Alabama mother Lindsey Smothers shared her story of how Dr. Foster’s treatment helped 10-year-old Lola overcome chronic foot pain and an abnormal gait pattern to lead a more active lifestyle. During a trip to New York City, Lola was able to walk up to 10 miles per day with no issues. “This was a colossal accomplishment for her as she absolutely hated walking longer distances before HyProCure,” Smothers said. “We are forever grateful to Dr. Foster and his entire staff, and we would return back for future needs without hesitation.

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