Palm Beach Podiatry offers many services in the area of pediatric foot care. As such, we know that flatfoot in children is a common concern for many parents. The good news is that pediatric flatfoot might simply be a matter of where your son or daughter is with regard to foot development. Even better is the fact that if no pain or adverse symptoms are present, you can put your mind at ease.
Understanding Pediatric Flatfoot
Foot arches take time to develop. In most cases, a child does not appear to have them until around age 3, since they are obscured by padding. As the child begins to grow, the arches will start to become observable. Between the years of 3 and 8, it isn’t uncommon for a child to have a condition we know as “flexible flatfoot.” In this condition, arches are not present while the child stands, but can be seen when he or she stands on tiptoe.
When it comes to flatfoot in children, any bothersome symptoms are typically not present at an early age. In fact, most children who have this condition do not ever display symptoms. When they do, however, problems that accompany flatfoot include:
- Cramping, tenderness, or pain in the knee, leg, or foot
- An outward tilting of the heel
- Difficulty with footwear
- Changes or awkwardness with walking
- Voluntary withdrawal from physical activities they used to enjoy
- Decrease in energy while participating in sports and physical activities
The good news for parents of children with pediatric flatfoot is that if symptoms are not present, there is no need for treatment. In such cases, we will simply re-evaluate and observe the condition periodically to ensure that this remains true. Doing so enables us to step in and provide care at the earliest stages when necessary.
When symptoms are experienced—especially pain in the foot, leg, and knee or awkwardness with walking and other physical activity—we can provide effective treatment. This typically begins by applying conservative, nonsurgical methods like:
- Activity modification – This could be a matter of simply ensuring that your child receives greater periods of rest between physical activities, but sometimes we may recommend mixing activities that require lots of running and jumping with low-impact ones.
- Custom orthotics or inserts – Over-the-counter inserts might provide adequate arch support, but a pair of custom orthotics prepared at our office will definitely help. We measure your child’s feet, analyze his or her gait, and then create orthotics that work especially for your son or daughter.
- Physical therapy – Stretching and strengthening exercises will not affect arch height, but they can increase the strength and flexibility of the foot, ankle, and affiliated muscles and connective tissues. This decreases the risk of pain or injury.
- Medication – We may recommend specific dosage and forms of medication to help alleviate any pain caused by the flatfoot condition.
- Shoe modification – Some footwear is designed to accommodate individuals who have low arches. You can often find help with this from personnel in stores that cater to runners and athletes. Of course, our staff is also available if you have questions or require assistance.
Conservative treatment options are often quite successful, but in rare cases surgery becomes the best path for improving your child’s foot function or relieving symptoms. If we reach this point in treating your son or daughter’s flatfoot condition, our foot specialists will discuss with you the specific surgical procedure(s) that might work best. This will, of course, depend on your child’s situation and take into consideration the severity and type of flatfoot present.
Pediatric Foot Care in Fort Pierce, FL
Whether your child has a flatfoot condition, arches that are too high, or ones that are normal, we are ready to help him or her at any of our three locations. You can trust the doctors at Palm Beach Podiatry to effectively treat any issue that is causing pain or difficulty for your son or daughter, so contact us today. Call our Loxahatchee, FL office at (561) 791-7773, our Boynton Beach office at (561) 734-3100, or our Fort Pierce office at (772) 468-0089. You can also schedule an appointment for any of your loved ones online.