Normal feet have arch at the inner portion or instep of the feet extending from the heel portion towards the base part of the big toe finger. But some do not have that arch in their feet. Those feet are said as ‘flat feet’.
There are people who bear thoughts that children having flat feet are abnormal. Such children require proper treatment with insoles, special types of shoes and even braces or splints. The majority of the children who are in between the age of 1-5 years bear flat feet. It is a normal development of the feet of those children. Most of the children over 95% come out of the problem with flat feet and the normal arch in the feet gets developed. The rest 5 percent of the children continue to grow with their flat feet. This problem of flat feet cause problem in only a small number of children. The children with flat feet are able to participate in all of the physical activities such as in any competitive games and sports and they do not experience any pain and other symptoms for having flat feet.
There can be some underlying problems. The doctor who will examine the flat feet of a child should check for the underlying problems and then should plan the next ongoing care. The older children those are having stiff and painful flat feet and some children those who previously had feet with normal arches but later develop flat feet need particular care and attention.
Generally children inherit their flat feet from the parents. But sometimes, the cause of flat feet is the result of:
The flat feet do not always require treatment as such feet can be developed to normal with age, but in some cases treatment is required for the safety of the children. There are two types of treatments of flat feet: one is non-surgical treatment and another is surgical treatment. Generally doctors do not recommend any treatment if flat feet do not hurt the children. Activity modifications, Orthotic devices, Physical therapy, Medications and Shoe modifications are the option of non-surgical treatment of flat feet. If children feel arching pain or hamper in their daily activities then doctor recommends less costly and simple arch support cushioned shoe or a built-in arch support running shoe. Sometimes insertion of small shoes may help by reducing the shoe wear but it will not alter the shape and size of the foot. There is another treatment option is done with short Achilles tendon. It is more difficult to stretch this tendon if the child has flat feet than if it is that they have an average-height arch. In case of stretching of Achilles tendon, the doctors are required to rotate the foot inward to elevate the arch. Doctors also prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief due to flat feet. Custom orthotic devices inside the shoe also provide comfort to the patients. Physicians usually do not recommend any hard arch supports for flexible flat feet. These hard plastics are made up of rigid arch supports. These are generally uncomfortable and painful for the children. In rare scenario specialist choose the surgery as a treatment option, especially when conservative treatment is not fruitful for the children, when children are more than 8 years old and Achilles tendon is short. Elongating of the short Achilles tendon as well as rectifying the flatfoot deformity is the main aim of the surgery. The specialists perform calcaneal lengthening osteotomy by increasing the height of the calcaneus using a bone implant inserted on the outer edge of the toe.
If the children having flat feet suffer any problems like over pronation or pain while walking or limited activities by the child then they should be taken to the doctors by the parents. There is nothing to worry as these problems are curable with treatments if the doctors are able to diagnose properly. The parents need to consult with an experienced doctor regarding their children’s flat feet that what to do and what not to do. If surgery needs to be done then the surgeon should talk to the parents about the operation of their children and what that surgery requires. The children those are having flexible flat feet do not require any treatment. They can grow a normal life like the children having proper arched feet.
Contented by: Kidsorthopedic