What are flat feet?
- Babies are born with the appearance of having flat feet when they are standing because their feet have fat pads.
- Most children outgrow it eventually as their feet get larger, their baby fat disappears and their foot muscles strengthen with weight bearing activity such as walking.
- If your child does not develop arches by the time they are 8 years old, it is not likely they will have an arch in adulthood
- Rigid flat feet is not normal in children and medical advice must be sought immediately
- Flat feet can develop as an adult due to illness, injuries, unusual or prolonged stress to the foot, faulty biomechanics, or as part of the normal aging process.
- Most flexible flat feet are asymptomatic and do not cause pain. In these cases, there is usually no cause for concern, and the condition may be considered a normal human variant.
- Some flat feet can be very painful and cause extra strain on ligaments, tendons and the bones of the foot and ankle.
- Rigid flatfoot, a condition where the sole of the foot is rigidly flat even when a person is not standing, often indicates a significant problem in the bones of the affected feet and can cause significant pain in most people.
What signs indicate flat feet?
- Flat feet don’t usually cause pain in young children but can cause pain in older children and teens.
- In some cases the pain only occurs during or after sports or other physical activity.
- Children may complain that their foot, ankle or leg is tired or of arch pain at night.
- It is important to see your podiatrist if your child complains of foot pain, the ankle is red, the feet or ankles feel tired, or calluses are forming under the arches.
- The podiatrist will want to examine your child’s shoes and the pattern of wear.
- Adolescents who complain of pain from flat feet should also be seen by a podiatrist.
What are the treatment options?
- Treatment of flat feet is only appropriate if there is associated foot, ankle or lower leg pain, or if the condition affects the knees or the lower back.
- Treatment for painful flat feet may include stretching and strengthening exercises
Foot orthotic devices can provide support for stressed joints and soft tissues.
Orthotics may also be a recommended option. An orthotic is designed to guide the mechanics of the foot to a precise degree which help the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. They can be custom-moulded made of composite materials that provide support and relieve pain for symptomatic flat feet.