There are many types of foot problems in children. One is flatfoot, where the arches are flattened, and the entire foot comes into contact with the ground while the child is standing. This condition is quite common in children and often resolves on its own without treatment.
However, in some cases, children with flat feet experience chronic pain and discomfort, and might also have difficulty with physical activities. If your child experiences symptoms of flatfoot, a Lee’s Summit podiatrist can help diagnose and treat the condition so they can live an active and pain-free life.
Symptoms of Flat Feet in Children
Flat feet present a range of symptoms in children that can sometimes be hard to detect. A few of the most common to watch for include:
- Pain or discomfort. Your child feels this the most in their feet, ankles, or lower legs, especially during physical activities.
- Tired or achy feet. They might complain about this after standing or walking for long periods.
- Stiffness or limited mobility. Your child may find running, jumping, or participating in sports difficult due to their feet feeling stiff or inflexible.
- Visible changes in foot appearance. The foot might appear wider than normal, with toes splayed out to the sides. The ankles may also seem to tilt inward, and the arch of the foot looks flattened.
Flat Feet Treatment Options
If you suspect your child has flat feet, seeking medical attention from a podiatrist experienced in children’s foot care is important. A podiatrist can thoroughly check feet and ankles to diagnose the condition. They also observe a child's gait and foot flexibility during the examination, and visible signs of flat feet, such as an absence of an arch. In some cases, an X-ray or other imaging tests may be ordered to assess the bones and joints in the feet and ankles.
Once a diagnosis is made, a podiatrist develops an individualized treatment plan that addresses any symptoms and prevents further complications. If children’s flatfoot is left untreated, it can lead to various complications that can affect not only the feet but also their legs, hips, and back. Complications may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the feet, ankles, or legs
- Overpronation, or excessive inward rolling of the foot when walking or running, which causes further strain on the feet, ankles, and legs
- Decreased mobility and flexibility
- Development of foot deformities such as bunions or hammer toes
- Lower back pain due to abnormal stress placed on the back
- Delayed motor skill development in young children
Treatment options for flat feet in children vary depending on their symptoms and the severity of the condition. Some options include:
- Observation. In mild cases of flatfoot, observation and monitoring may be all that’s required, as the condition could resolve itself as the child grows and develops.
- Orthotic devices. Custom orthotics can provide additional support to the arches of the feet, relieve pain and discomfort, and help prevent further complications.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can develop a customized exercise program to strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion in the feet, ankles, and legs.
- Surgery. Surgery isn’t typically required, but in severe cases of flatfoot, it might be necessary to correct the alignment of the foot bones and restore the arch.
If surgery is recommended, HyProCure is a safe and effective procedure to consider to treat flat feet in both children and adults. It involves the placement of a small titanium implant in the ankle bone to realign the bones in the foot and restore the arch. HyProCure is a permanent solution that can correct your child’s foot problem so they can enjoy activities once again without chronic pain.