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Flat feet


Flat feet in children are those feet that have no arch, or very little arch on the inside of the foot. Some children will have no arch only when standing, when the arch will appear to collapse.

If your child has flat feet and you are concerned, visit Chiropody.co.uk for an assessment.

Flat Feet in Children

A child that has flat feet will present with feet that have no arch on the inside of the foot. In some cases the arch may be present when sitting, but disappears or 'collapses' as soon as the child stands, this type of foot is referred to as a flexible flat foot. Other children will present with feet that have no inside arch when both sitting and standing, this type of flat foot is referred to as a rigid or structural flat foot.

What causes flat feet in children?

The causes of flat feet in children are varied, with the most common cause being hypermobility. Children that have hypermobility will also be very flexible at other joints in the body, due to the ligaments (which connect bones to other bones) being soft. A child that has a flat foot as a result of hypermobility will, in many cases,grow out of it as the ligaments strengthen.

Other causes of flat feet in children include the following:

  • Over pronation

Pronation describes a perfectly normal movement of the foot, the movement occurs at a joint known as the subtalar joint, which is just below the ankle joint. When the foot pronates it essentially sticks out and flattens. Over-pronation is when the foot pronates at the wrong time in the gait cycle or for too long. There are a number of reasons why a foot will over-pronate, some of these include:

  • Leg length difference
  • Being overweight
  • Tibialvarum or 'bowed legs'
  • Tendon rupture
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
  • Injury
  • Medical conditions, for example:
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Muscular dystrophy
    • Downs syndrome
    • Spina bifida

What are the signs and symptoms of flat feet in children?

The main sign of a flat foot is flattening of the inside arch. Other signs and symptoms that your child has a flat foot may include:

  • Knee pain
  • Heel pain
  • Arch pain
  • Pain when walking, participating in sporting activities
  • 'Going over' on shoes

If your child has any of the above symptoms they should have an assessment with a podiatrist.

Types of flat feet in children

There are two main types of flat foot in children, these include:

A flexible flat foot

The foot presents with an arch when no weight is placed onto the foot, but collapses so that the arch flattens upon standing.

A rigid flat foot

There is no inside arch. The foot is flat so that no inside arch is visible at all times. This means that no arch is present when both siting and standing.

How are flat feet in children diagnosed?

The nature and cause of your child's flat foot can be diagnosed, and if necessary treated by one of our podiatrists at Chiropody.co.uk. The diagnosis is done by assessing the mechanics of your child's leg and foot, as well as assessing your child's walk. This is known as a biomechanical assessment. The results of the biomechanical assessment, along with a thorough social and medical history will provide your podiatrist with all the information necessary to make a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the benefits of podiatry for my child's flat feet?

If your child has flat feet, and following an assessment it is found that treatment is appropriate, the following benefits may be achieved with podiatry:

  • Reduction in pain
  • Improvement in foot and lower limb function
  • Improvement in gait

What would podiatry for my child's flat foot involve?

So your podiatrist can assess your child easily, it is a good idea to dress your child in loose fitting trousers that may be rolled up so that the leg is easily accessible. Sometimes it is necessary to assess the hips aswell; if this is the case shorts are desirable.

A visit to Chiropody.co.uk will begin by obtaining a thorough history, both medical and social. Our podiatrist will then assess your child's leg and foot, and have a look at them walking. We have a large gym space available, complete with toys and aids to make the experience of being assessed fun for your child!

Treatment for your child's flat foot will depend on the cause. Sometimes treatment for flat foot is not necessary, if this is the case your podiatrist will discuss this with you. Equally it may be that treatment will encompass physiotherapy, again your podiatrist will discuss this with you and we have excellent links with paediatric physiotherapists here at the clinic.

If treatment is necessary this may include:

Treatment options for childhood flat foot vary according to the individual patient and their requirements. Whether treatment is required or not, it will be full discussed and explained to you.

Summary

Flat feet in children present as feet that do not have the inside arch. The inside arch of the foot may be present when your child is non weightbearing, but then collapses when your child stands; this is known as a flexible flat foot. If your child presents with no arch at all then this is what is known as a rigid flat foot.

There are a number of causes for flat feet in children, in order to ascertain the cause it is recommended that your child is assessed by a podiatrist at Chiropody.co.uk so that if necessary an appropriate treatment plan can be put into place.

To book an assessment with one our podiatrists please Email office@chiropody.co.uk or call 0330 088 4222.

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