What are Flat Feet?
In simple terms, flat feet have low arches which may touch the floor. The feet may be turned outwards. In children flat feet may be flexible or rigid. Flexible flat feet are common. Most children are born with little if any arch and it gradually develops as they get older. Flexible flat feet display no arch when the child is standing but when the child is on tip toes the arch reappears. Rigid flat feet are much less common and are a more serious concern. This may indicate tarsal coalition, which is an abnormal connection between two or more bones in the foot.
What are the Symptoms?
Flat feet are a common concern for parents. Flexible flat feet however are usually painless and do not interfere with the child’s function. If they persist into adolescence they sometimes cause discomfort along the bottom or inner side of the foot. If your child has a flat foot and is experiencing pain they should be reviewed by a doctor.
What is the Treatment?
Most flexible flat feet require no treatment. Treatment is only indicated if your child is experiencing pain. Achilles tendon stretching exercises and orthotics may help the child who is experiencing pain.
Surgical treatment can be considered if exercises and orthotics are insufficient and may involve lengthening a tight Achilles tendon as well as a procedure to recreate the arch such as arthroereisis. A painful tarsal coalition may require either tarsal coalition resection or fusion.