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Flat Feet

Many children have flexible flatfoot because of slight looseness of their ligaments. The arches of their feet are flat when they stand but appear normally when they sit or stand on tip-toe. Most flexible flatfoot conditions slowly improve over time.

A more rare type is rigid flatfoot. A child’s feet will be stiff and the condition may not correct itself.

How is flatfoot diagnosed?

Most children with flatfoot have no symptoms; some will have pain in their feet or legs.

Your child’s doctor will examine your child’s feet and may have them sit, stand and walk to examine how the feet look in each situation. Often a tip toe test is performed. Children with flexible flatfoot will correct their flatfoot when standing on their tiptoes, and their arches will reappear. If a child has rigid flatfoot, the arches will not reappear.

X-rays are sometimes ordered to assess flat-foot severity.

How is flatfoot treated?

Flexible flatfoot in children is normal. The condition usually improves over time and research has shown that corrective shoes and inserts do not help to correct it.

For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend the child use an insert in his or her shoes to support the arch. A custom orthotic device may be made to fit in your child’s shoe. In rare cases, surgery may be needed.