Pediatric Flat Foot: When Arches Never Arrive

When babies are born, the arches in their feet are pretty much non-existent, and even as they age, the formation of arches usually plays peek-a-boo when your little one sits and stands. Typically the arch doesn’t truly develop for several years, however, sometimes it never develops at all, leaving parents to wonder if there’s something they should do. Understanding flat feet in children can help calm those concerns.

To Treat or Not to Treat

Flat Feet in ChildrenEveryone is born with flat feet and in fact even at the age of 9 – 15 months, when children typically start to walk, feet still have a somewhat chubby appearance as the bones have yet to fully develop. However, around age 2 or 3, arches should start to form. If you do not notice this change occurring, this is a great time to make an appointment with Dr. O to evaluate your child’s feet and determine if treatment is necessary. In some cases, children do not exhibit any symptoms of pediatric flat foot. If they are able to run and play without any pain or problems, other than regular check-ups, no treatment is needed. If, however, your child complains of pain, tenderness, or cramping, or you notice your child’s heel tilts outward, he or she has difficulty wearing shoes or walking, and is reluctant to participate in activities, these are all signs of children’s flat feet that, while no cause for alarm, should be addressed.

Conservative Measures for Improved Comfort

At a young age, feet are very flexible as they are largely still made up of cartilage. For this reason, early detection and treatment to shape and correct structure is typically quite successful. Rest assured that there are plenty of non-surgical options to treat flat feet in children that can help eliminate symptoms and allow your child to participate in activities just like any other kid. Some of these conservative methods include:

  • Orthotic shoe inserts can give your child the support, comfort, and shock absorbency a natural arch would typically provide, diminishing symptoms and improving function. We can provide a custom pair designed specifically for your child’s unique feet.
  • Stretching exercises and physical therapy can help ease pain as well as strengthen muscles.
  • We can recommend medication and modifications of footwear that will help with discomfort as well.
  • Taking a break from activities that cause discomfort as well as avoiding walking and standing for long periods of time can help minimize symptoms too.

Surgery for Severe Situations

In the rare case that conservative measures are unsuccessful and your child’s quality of life is extremely impacted, there are surgical procedures that can help restore form and function, however this should only be considered as a last resort.

Partnering with Parents

If your child seems to be withdrawing from activities or complaining of foot pain, Podiatry Associates, P.C. is happy to help. We can determine if pediatric flat foot is to blame, and if so, what treatment methods would be best to get your little one back to playing pain-free.  

Contact our Castle Pines or Parker, CO offices to make an appointment with our team by calling (303) 805-5156 today.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC