Flat Foot in Children and Its Treatment

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What is Flatfoot in Children? Understanding its Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Flatfoot, also known as pes planus, is a common condition in which the entire or a part of the foot’s sole touches the ground when standing. This is a normal condition in infants and toddlers but can sometimes persist into adulthood or develop later in life. Flatfoot in children is a cause for concern among parents, but it is not a disease, and most children outgrow it naturally. In this article, we will explore what causes flatfoot in children, how to treat it, and answer some frequently asked questions.

Causes of Flat Foot in Children

Flatfoot in children can be either flexible or rigid. Flexible flatfoot is the most common type, and it usually disappears as the child grows. It happens because the arch of the foot has not yet fully developed, and the supporting tissues and muscles are weak. Rigid flatfoot, on the other hand, is a more serious condition that is caused by a problem with the bones or joints in the foot.

The following are some common causes of flatfoot in children:

Genetics

Flatfoot is an inherited trait, and some children are more likely to develop it if their parents had it.

Delay in Development

The arch of the foot usually develops by the age of six, and any delay can result in flatfoot.

Injury

Injury to the foot or ankle can cause flatfoot.

Obesity

Obesity can put extra pressure on the feet, causing them to flatten.

How to Diagnose Flat Foot in Children

It is essential to diagnose flatfoot early so that any necessary treatments can be started as soon as possible. The diagnosis of flatfoot in children involves a physical examination by a medical professional. The doctor will look for signs of flatfoot, such as a flattened arch when standing, a child’s shoes that wear out unevenly, and abnormal walking patterns.

If necessary, the doctor may order imaging tests, such as an X-ray, to determine if there is a problem with the bones or joints in the foot.

Is Flatfoot a Childhood Disease?

Flatfoot is not a disease but a normal variation in foot structure. It is estimated that up to 20% of children have flatfoot. Most children outgrow it naturally as they grow and develop stronger muscles and ligaments.

How to Treat Flat Foot in Children

The majority of children with flatfoot do not require treatment as it resolves spontaneously as they grow. However, if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort, the following treatments can help:

Orthotics

Orthotics are devices that are worn inside shoes to provide support and improve foot posture. They can be custom-made or bought off the shelf.

Exercises

Exercises can help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the foot and improve foot posture.

Footwear

Wearing shoes that provide good support can help to prevent pain and discomfort.

Surgery

Surgery is rarely necessary, and it is only considered if other treatments are not effective.

Which Shoes Should Flat-Footed People Prefer?

Choosing the right shoes is essential for children with flatfoot as they can help to prevent pain and discomfort. The following are some features to look for when choosing shoes for flatfooted children:

Arch Support

Shoes with arch support can help to improve foot posture.

Wide Toe Box

Shoes with a wide toe box can provide extra space for the toes and prevent pressure on the foot.

Stability

Shoes that are stable can help to prevent rolling of the foot and improve balance.

Can Children Get Flatfooted With Exercise?

Exercise is important for a child’s overall health and well-being. However, some types of exercises can put extra strain on the feet and contribute to flatfoot. For example, activities that involve jumping or running on hard surfaces can put extra pressure on the feet, causing them to flatten.

However, this does not mean that children should avoid exercise altogether. Instead, parents should encourage their children to engage in activities that are low-impact, such as swimming or cycling, and ensure that they wear appropriate footwear.

What Activities Should Children with Flatfoot Avoid?

While most children with flatfoot can engage in regular activities without any issues, there are some activities that may cause pain or discomfort. These activities include:

High-Impact Exercises

Activities that involve jumping or running on hard surfaces can put extra pressure on the feet.

Sports that Require Tight Footwear

Sports such as ballet or ice skating, which require tight footwear, can exacerbate foot pain in children with flatfoot.

Standing for Prolonged Periods

Standing for extended periods can put extra pressure on the feet, causing discomfort in children with flatfoot.

Conclusion

Flatfoot is a common condition in children that usually resolves naturally as they grow. However, some children may experience pain or discomfort, requiring treatment. Parents can help prevent and manage flatfoot in children by ensuring they wear appropriate footwear, encouraging low-impact activities, and seeking medical attention if necessary.

FAQs

  1. Can flatfoot cause long-term problems in children? In most cases, flatfoot in children does not cause long-term problems. However, in rare cases, it can lead to arthritis or other foot problems later in life.
  2. At what age do children’s feet stop growing? A child’s foot continues to grow and develop until they reach their late teens.
  3. Are there any exercises that can help prevent flatfoot in children? Yes, exercises that strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the foot can help to prevent flatfoot in children.
  4. Is surgery always necessary for flatfoot in children? Surgery is rarely necessary for flatfoot in children and is only considered if other treatments are not effective.
  5. Can flatfoot be prevented? Flatfoot cannot be prevented as it is a normal variation in foot structure. However, parents can help to prevent pain and discomfort by ensuring their children wear appropriate footwear and engaging in low-impact activities.
  6. Can flatfoot affect a child’s ability to walk or run? Flatfoot can cause pain or discomfort in some children, which may affect their ability to walk or run. However, most children with flatfoot can engage in regular activities without any issues.
  7. Can flatfoot be corrected with exercise alone? While exercises can help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the foot and improve foot posture, they are usually not enough to correct flatfoot completely.
  8. Are there any home remedies for flatfoot in children? While there are no specific home remedies for flatfoot, ensuring that your child wears appropriate footwear and engaging in low-impact activities can help to prevent and manage the condition.
  9. Does flatfoot increase the risk of injury in children? Flatfoot itself does not increase the risk of injury in children. However, if it causes pain or discomfort, it may affect a child’s ability to engage in certain activities, which could increase the risk of injury.
  10. How often should children with flatfoot see a doctor? Most children with flatfoot do not require regular visits to a doctor. However, if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort, or if you have any concerns, you should consult a medical professional.
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