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Pediatric Flatfoot: Managing Children’s Arch Issues

Children bounce back quickly. Injuries that are well-cared for often recover faster in them than in adults. Their bodies are also able to handle more wear and tear. Keeping their limbs healthy when they’re young can help to manage foot problems in adulthood. That’s why conditions like pediatric flatfoot need to be observed and managed appropriately.

What is it?

Pediatric flatfoot is a common foot structure that occurs in children. Normally feet develop an arch that helps distribute body weight and absorb shock when walking. This happens between the time your child starts walking and roughly the age he or she would start school. Some children, however, never develop an arch, or have one that is abnormally low. Children’s flat feet are usually flexible and may or may not cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Sometimes, though, flat feet in children can cause discomfort. Your child may develop fatigue, aching pain, or cramping in the feet and lower legs more easily. Low or flat arches make your son or daughter more prone to overpronation, which can lead to additional problems and possibly gait changes. Your child may find certain shoes uncomfortable to wear. In addition, the more painful the arches are, the more quickly your child may wear out when playing—he or she may even avoid athletic activities altogether.

Are There Complications?

Sometimes children’s flat feet are related to outside issues. A tight Achilles tendon can cause painful problems in the arch. More rarely, children can develop a rigid form of pediatric flatfoot. This can cause serious symptoms that create significant pain in the lower limbs. Sometimes it’s actually a sign of tarsal coalition, in which bones in the arch abnormally fuse together. While painless flat feet in children might not need treatment, any kind that causes discomfort will need to be addressed.

How is it Treated?

Taking care of children’s flat feet can be done conservatively in most cases. Dr. Noah Levine will need to examine your young one’s lower limbs to accurately diagnose the issue. Our staff may help with tests to determine the type of flatfoot and if there are any complications. Then we can help your son or daughter deal with the discomfort.

Your child’s lower limbs will need more support to alleviate the pressure on the flattened arches. Shoe changes and orthotics can help with this. Your child may need to look for new shoes that provide the right kind of arch stabilization and cushioning to help absorb shock when walking or running. Orthotics can also stabilize the foot, as well as correct biomechanical issues that may cause discomfort. Physical therapy works the supporting muscles and connective tissues, strengthening the foot so it’s able to handle pressure and shock better. Stretching may relieve any pain from tightened tissues in the feet and ankles, too. If the discomfort is persistent, we may recommend child-safe pain medications. Very rarely is surgery needed to correct flatfoot problems in children.

If your young one is struggling with pediatric flatfoot, don’t wait until he or she can no longer participate in regular activities. Let the Absolute Foot Care Specialists team manage your children’s feet. You can make an appointment with our Las Vegas offices by using the web request form or by calling (702) 839-2010.