Many parents, especially new ones, are concerned when they realize their child’s feet are flat and do not have the expected foot arches. The good news about this situation is that worry is often unnecessary. Whereas there are certainly cases of pediatric flatfoot that require treatment, there are even more cases that do not.
No matter if you simply would like a medical opinion or your child is experiencing symptoms and needs professional care, Dr. Daniel J. Walters is here to help. Dr. Walters can evaluate your child’s foot arches and lower limbs to determine whether or not there is a problem. If medical care is needed, he will create a treatment plan so your son or daughter can participate in favorite activities, without foot pain!
What is Normal Child Foot Development?
The best starting point for looking at pediatric flatfoot is with child foot development.
When a child is born you most likely will not be able to observe foot arches. Whereas it might seem concerning that your baby has flat feet, this is quite normal. Initially, the young arches are obscured by pads of fat on the bottom of the feet. It might be until the age of 3 before you start to see foot arches.
Of course, even if your child passes 3 years of age without pronounced foot arches, there still isn’t much reason to worry. The arches start to really develop around this time, and continue to do so until a child’s eighth birthday, give or take.
We’ll delve into this a bit further in a moment, but it’s worth noting here that a nine-year-old who has flatfoot still might not be cause for concern. The reason for this is the distinction between cases of flexible and rigid flatfoot.
What is the Difference Between Flexible and Rigid Flatfoot?
To start, a key distinction between flexible and rigid flatfoot conditions is that flexible flatfoot is less likely to cause problems than are rigid cases. Fortunately, flexible flatfoot tends to be more common between the two varieties. Your son or daughter has flexible flatfoot if foot arches can be observed when there is no weight being placed on the feet (for example, when your child is sitting and his or her legs are dangling).
Rigid flatfoot is a condition wherein there are complications with tarsal bones in the feet. As a result of these complications, it doesn’t matter whether or not weight is being placed on the foot – an arch will not be observed. These cases are more likely to cause pain and need professional treatment and care.
How is Pediatric Flatfoot Treated?
It is important to keep in mind that when no symptoms are experienced, there is no need for treatment. In such cases, we will simply want to monitor the condition and re-evaluate it periodically. When symptoms are present, however, there are various nonsurgical treatment methods that can be used, including:
- Modifying activities. Decreasing activities that cause pain, or switching them out for ones that are low-impact, can help provide relief. In some cases, standing or walking for prolonged periods can cause difficulty and those should be limited as well.
- Prescribing orthotic devices. Our office can prepare custom orthotic devices that slide into your son or daughter’s shoes. This will support the structure of your child’s feet and lead to improved foot function.
- Physical therapy. In many young patients, prescribed stretching exercises will provide relief for flatfoot conditions.
- Shoe modifications. Certain shoes work better for individuals with low arches and we can help you find ones that might be best for your child.
- Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation and pain. Our office will provide recommended dosage amounts, so be sure to call before giving any of these medications to your son or daughter.
No matter what foot condition or injury is affecting your child, Dr. Walters is here to help. He can provide the effective treatment to allow your son or daughter to perform favorite activities and find relief from any pain or discomfort.
Schedule an appointment at our Chicago office by calling (773) 586-0050—Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to call—or use our online form to contact us today!