Once a child with flexible flatfoot stands, the arch of the foot disappears. When sitting or during tiptoe, the arch will reappear. Remember that this condition will always involve both feet. Flexible flatfoot is considered common among children. Parents often worry needlessly that an unusually low or absent arch in the foot can lead to permanent deformity or disabilities. Flexible flatfoot will not cause any pain and will not disrupt walking or participation in sports. Many children eventually outgrow the condition without any issues.
What is flexible flatfoot?
This condition is considered as variation of a normal foot where the joints and muscles function normally. Many children are born with a little arch in the feet. As the child grows and walks, the soft tissues throughout the base of the feet constrict which progressively forms the arches of the feet.
Children who have flexible flatfoot do not often develop an arch until the age of 5 years old or older. Some do not even develop an arch. In case flexible flatfoot remains up to adolescence, the child can end up with throbbing pain throughout the base of the foot. A doctor must be consulted if the flatfeet cause pain.
Diagnosing flexible flatfeet
When creating a diagnosis, the doctor will assess the child to rule out other types of flat feet that will require treatment such as flexible flatfoot or rigid flatfoot. The doctor should be informed if anyone in the family also have flatfoot since it might be inherited. The doctor should be aware of any neurological or muscular disease the child might have.
The doctor will check for patterns of wear on the shoes used by the child. The child is asked to sit, stand or raise the toes while standing on tiptoe or standing. In addition, the doctor will check the heel cord or Achilles tendon of the child for tightness as well as the base of the foot for calluses.
The treatment for flexible flatfoot is only needed if the child experiences discomfort. If the child has activity-related pain or tiredness in the ankle, leg or foot, the doctor will recommend stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon.
In case discomfort persists, the doctor will recommend the use of shoe inserts. Firm, soft and hard-molded arch supports can reduce the pain and fatigue. In addition, they also extend the lifespan of the shoes worn by the child that can wear unevenly. Physical therapy or casting might also be recommended if the child has flexible flatfoot with tightened heel cords. To learn to recognize and manage the discomfort caused by this condition, sign up for a course in first aid today.
In some cases, surgery might be needed for adolescents who suffer from persistent pain. In some children, flexible flatfeet can become stiff instead of correcting with growth. In such cases, it would require further medical evaluation.