Flexible Flatfoot in Children

Flexible flatfoot is a common condition in children that affects both feet. It is characterized by the disappearance of the arch of the foot when a child stands, but not when a child is sitting or on their toes. An abnormally low or absent arch is typically painless and will not cause difficulties with walking or athletic activity.

As children with little to no arch in their feet age and grow, tissues in the bottom of the foot will tighten and progressively shape the arches of the foot. Most children with the condition will not develop an arch until they are 5 years of age or older. In some cases, an arch may never develop.

When flexible flatfoot continues as a child enters adolescence, it can cause pain along the bottom of the feet, especially after walking or physical activity. When a child does experience pain, a physician can evaluate the condition and determine an appropriate treatment plan. A personalized evaluation from a doctor is important in ruling out other issues that may require treatment, such as flexible flatfoot with a tight Achilles tendon or rigid flatfoot.

Flexible Flatfoot Treatment

Treatment is required in cases where a child experiences pain and discomfort as the result of flexible flatfoot, and may include several nonsurgical approaches:

  • Stretching / physical therapy – Pain caused by activity or weakness in the leg, ankle, or foot may be treated with physical therapy and stretching exercises that can strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve function. Stretches of the heel cord can help relieve pain during activity.
  • Shoe modifications – Shoe inserts that provide molded arch supports can help relieve pain and fatigue in the foot, ankle, or leg. In-shoe orthotics can help children walk comfortably.
  • Bracing / casting – In cases of more advanced forms of flatfoot that don’t respond to other approaches, bracing or casting may be used, including in cases involving flexible flatfoot with tight heel cords.

Surgical treatment may be required in more serious cases involving children who experience persistent pain into adolescence, or when there is another underlying condition in the foot or ankle. In some instances, flexible flatfeet may not correct as a child ages and may become rigid, which can necessitate other treatment approaches or surgery.

Request an Evaluation Appointment Today

If your child is experiencing pain as a result of flexible flatfoot, our board certified specialists are available to perform an evaluation and develop a treatment plan that can help provide the relief your child needs improve their quality of life and enjoy physical activity. To request an appointment, call Torrance Memorial Physician Network today.