Treatment for Flat Feet in children
Treatments and diagnosis
Children with flat feet are often diagnosed by their pediatricians. If your child is not experiencing any pain or other symptoms, no further testing is usually needed.
Children who have symptoms should be examined by experts in pediatric foot conditions.the pediatric orthopedic physician will perform a complete medical history, physical examination and visual evaluation of your child. Doctors will ask your child to describe the pain — dull, sharp, sudden, burning — and whether there are any activities that ease the pain or worsen it.
The doctor may observe your child walking, standing or running — regularly and on their toes — to better understand the mechanics of your child’s feet. Clinicians may ask you to bring your child’s everyday shoes to the appointment so they can evaluate the wear patterns and pinpoint what may be causing their pain.
If your child is experiencing significant foot pain, doctors may also order imaging tests such as:
- X-rays, which produce images of bones.
- EOS imaging, an imaging technology that creates 3-dimensional models from two flat images. Unlike a CT scan, EOS images are taken while the child is in an upright or standing position, enabling improved diagnosis due to weight-bearing positioning.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan, which uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to examine bones and produces cross-sectional images ("slices") of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs, soft tissues, muscles, ligaments and other structures within the body. Your child is exposed to no radiation during an MRI.
If your child’s flat feet are not causing pain, no further treatment is usually necessary.
For children who are experiencing pain associated with their flat feet, doctors may recommend a variety of non-surgical treatments to relieve the pain, including:
Arch supports — Your child’s doctor may recommend arch support orthotic devices that fit inside your child’s shoes to relieve pain and reduce symptoms. These devices are available over-the-counter or can be custom-designed to mold to the contours of your child’s feet.
Supportive shoes — Encourage your child to wear structurally supportive shoes instead of sandals, flip-flops and shoes without arch support.
Stretching exercises — Exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon may help some children with flat feet.
Physical therapy — Flat feet can lead to overuse injuries in some active children and runners. A video analysis of how your child runs may help identify problems with form and physical therapists can work with your child to correct it.
Rest — Encourage children to rest and allow their bodies time to recuperate. Avoid high-impact activities such as jumping and running – and instead encourage your child to participate in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming and biking.
Medications — Over-the-counter pain relievers may reduce pain and discomfort for children who experience it.
Weight loss — If your child is overweight and has flat feet, a doctor may recommend structured weight loss to relive some of the stress on the child’s feet.
Surgery is not usually needed for flexible flat feet, but if your child has a related foot or leg problem, such as a torn tendon, accessory or extra bone, fusion between bones in the foot and other conditions, surgery may be recommended.
Most children with flat feet will not need long-term follow-up care. However, if your child’s flat feet begin to cause pain, your child should see a pediatric orthopedic physician.
RIVERA FOOT & ANKLE: At Orlando H.Rivera DPM, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. When you have problems with your feet, you need to turn to a podiatrist who listens and responds… an experienced doctor who knows the field and can effectively diagnose and treat your needs… a friendly physician who counsels you on the best ways to maintain and improve your health. Our physician(s) meet all these criteria. Plus, you benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
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