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Flat Feet

What are flat feet?

A flat foot is one that does not have an arch on the inside of the foot. Often a person will have an arch when non-weightbearing, however upon standing this will collapse. A foot that collapses so that no arch is present when standing is referred to as a flexible flat foot. If the foot has no arch present when both standing and non weightbearing this is called a structural or 'rigid' flat foot.

Children between the ages of one and five will often have what will appear to be a flat foot, which is a normal developmental stage for this age group and one that in the majority of cases they will grow out of as a normal arch develops.

A flat foot is not necessarily problematic, however for some they can be a source of pain. Sometimes there is an underlying cause for a child's flat foot, which should be checked so that a treatment plan and care can be arranged. Children who have suddenly acquired flat feet having before had a normal arch and those that have a flat foot that is rigid instead of flexible need to be assessed.

Manchester podiatry can help your child if they have flat feet by performing an assessment in order to establish the cause, and then formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

What causes flat feet in children?

There are a number of causes of flat foot in children, the most common being hypermobility which causes the ligaments that hold the bones together to soften. Other causes of flat feet in children include:

Over pronation
Pronation describes a normal movement of the foot, sometimes the foot will 'over-pronate' and when this happens the foot is in a more flattened position at the wrong stage of the gait cycle.

Causes of over-pronation can include; leg length difference, forefoot varus, tibial varum, and being overweight.

Neurological conditions
Some neurological conditions can present with flat feet, these include, muscular dystrophy and Downs Syndrome.

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

A visit to Manchester Podiatry for a child that has flat feet would begin with an assessment. During the assessment the podiatrist will take down a thorough medical history, as well as a history of the problem itself and any difficulties that your child may be experiencing as a result of their flat feet.

Once the history has been obtained our podiatrists will assess your child walking, they will also examine the quality and range of motion of the muscles and joints in the foot and leg.

The assessments are all painless, and are carried out in a large gym space that is filled with a number of toys and visual aids in order to make the experience fun for your child.

The podiatric treatment options available for a child with flat foot are dependent upon the cause and the presenting signs and symptoms. It is not necessary to treat all children with flat feet, and if this is deemed the most suitable treatment the reasons for this will be discussed with you, as will any recommended referrals, for example, to physiotherapy.

The podiatric treatment options for a child with flat foot may include:
  • Orthoses
  • Exercises
  • Heel raises
  • Lifestyle modification
  • Footwear modification
  • Massage

What should I do if my child has flat feet?

If your child has flat feet and you are concerned, one of our podiatrists can help you. Our podiatrists are university trained in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of foot and leg pathologies. In the case of your child's flat foot our podiatrists will fully assess the mechanics of their leg and foot. The results will dictate the treatment (if any) necessary and may involve orthoses and/or exercises.

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