Having flat feet is particularly common in infants and young children. The scientific term for flat feet is pes planus, meaning the flattening of the arch during standing or walking. The condition generally corrects itself with time as children’s muscles strengthen along with their soft tissues stiffening. It is important to keep in mind that the arch in the foot increases from birth until about the age of 10.

Causes of flat feet

Having flat feet can come from having usual anatomy or ligament or muscle damage. Having a higher body mass index may also increase the weight placed on your feet. In the long run, this can cause your feet to flatten.

When flat feet should cause concern

Although a majority of flat feet are painless, there are certainly some circumstances where you should be concerned about having flat feet.

Decreased functionality

The treatment of flat feet is subject to controversy. However, healthcare providers have reached a general consensus about when flat feet should cause concern. If there is a decreased functionality within the foot, you may need to see a trained professional. Usually, when there is pain or decreased function in the foot, it is from an underlying or previous injury to the surrounding muscle or tissue.

Decreased functionality with a flat foot is also common within children who are overweight. These children also tend to have buckling or knocking knees as well. If this is the case, you may want to see a health professional as soon as possible. High levels of fat can lead to later health problems such as diabetes or elevated blood sugar levels. In adulthood, having a flat foot will be the least of your worries at that stage.

Walking abnormalities

Another surefire way to tell if flat feet are a medical concern is if you or a loved one are experiencing difficulties walking or running. In the case of a flat foot, overpronation, or the process in which the heels of your foot excessively rolls past the normal range, can cause abnormalities during walking or running.

In reverse of the previous statement, a child with an excess of joint flexibility will show unusual levels of bending. If this is the case, ensure that the child has proper footwear to help protect the joints and ligaments surrounding the sole of the foot. Although virtually painless, walking abnormalities should be treated or diagnosed as soon as possible. There may also be many other additional underlying issues near the sole or heel.

Nonsurgical treatment options

You never want to place a child under surgical care unless absolutely necessary. There are plenty of nonsurgical treatments available. The first step is to modify activity levels. Decrease the time spent doing activities that require prolonged periods of walking, running or standing.

If possible, attempt physical therapy to rehab the foot. Stretching exercises can help provide relief in some cases of flat feet. If any pain is involved, try physical therapy and taking over-the-counter painkillers under a doctor’s supervision. Last but not least, there are also shoe and sole modifications available for those children with light cases of flat feet.

Request an appointment here: https://www.pocatellopodiatry.com or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (208) 803-0010 for an appointment in our Pocatello office.

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