What is a paediatric flat foot?

Flat feet refers to a condition where the arches of the feet flatten or collapse excessively. When this condition occurs in children it is know as paediatric flat foot or paediatric pes planus.

This common children’s foot condition can be either symptomatic or asymptomatic. As well as low or flat foot arches you may also notice excess rolling in of your child’s ankles. Symptoms occur because flat feet function poorly, placing added strain on children’s muscles and ligaments. This can lead to sore or tired feet and legs in children. Paediatric flat feet is a common causative factor in children’s foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain.

Does your child have flat feet?

Signs & symptoms of paediatric flat feet (paediatric pes planus)

The following signs or symptoms may indicate a paediatric flat foot:

  • A collapsing, low or flat arch present on one or both of your child’s feet when standing
  • Excess rolling inwards (excess pronation) of one or both of your child’s ankles when they walk
  • You may notice your child walks with an awkward gait
  • Paediatric flat feet can be symptomatic or asymptomatic
  • Your child may complain of sore or tired feet and legs
  • Your child may choose not to participate in activities
  • Your child may report pain or cramping under the arch
  • Sometimes your child may even complain of night pains or growing pains in the legs
  • You may notice excessive wear on your child’s shoes
  • You may notice bony lumps on top of your child’s arch or poor alignment of the toes
Children's flat feet treatment Camberwell

Causes of paediatic flat feet (paediatric pes planus)

Paediatric flat feet are mostly hereditary in nature and caused by genetic factors that affect the way the foot functions. For this reason you may notice that another member of the family or a member in a past generation may also have or had flat feet. Some paediatric flat feet can still be acquired and these are generally the result of poor posture, gait, lower leg alignment or injury.

Some common characteristics that can affect foot structure and lead to a paediatric flat foot include:

  • Flexible or hypermobile joints and ligaments
  • Abnormality of the bones in the feet
  • Low muscle tone
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Poor hip or leg alignment leading to a poor angle of gait
  • Acute injury

Most paediatric flat feet are generally flexible in nature but some may be rigid if caused by a bony abnormality, such as coalition (when 2 bones join together).

Paediatric flat feet (paediatric pes planus) diagnosis

Paediatric flat feet are easily diagnosed clinically by our Melbourne podiatrists, who are experts in children’s foot problems. Referral for x-rays are generally not required unless range of motion is affected and our podiatrists suspect a bony abnormality as a cause.

Self diagnosis for children’s flat feet can be difficult. Whilst some flat feet in children are easily noticed when a child first starts standing, others may not be noticed until years later when your child is at school age and more active. Please bear in mind that in a young infant it is normal to have a flat foot as there is still fatty tissue present under the arch and a child’s arch may not fully develop until 6 years of age. However it is estimated that 1 in 5 children will never develop an arch.

Our Melbourne children’s podiatrists can assess your child’s feet and gait using computer gait analysis to see if they have or are likely to develop flat feet. If problems are identified early our podiatrists may be able to successfully treat them and help prevent a paediatric flat foot deformity.

If you have any concerns with your child’s feet, gait or posture we strongly recommend seeing one of our children’s podiatrist for assessment as early as possible. A recommended age is to get your child checked by a podiatrist is when they first start walking and again around 3-4 years of age.

Podiatry treatment for paediatric flat feet

The children’s podiatrists at Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics are experts in children’s foot problems including paediatric flat feet. Treatment options at our Melbourne foot clinic include:

Children’s orthotics work by restoring the foots natural arch and alignment whilst improving foot function. This helps improve a child’s posture and stability thereby reducing strain on joints and lower leg muscles.

Orthotic treatment for paediatric flat feet may be short term or long term depending on the severity and the cause. A mild flat foot deformity may be corrected with early podiatry intervention but more severe flat feet and will likely require long term orthotic wear to help support the foot, protect foot structure and prevent future symptoms.

If children’s flat feet are not supported then it will cause poor bony alignment of the bones in the feet, potentially leading to cartilage degeneration, arthritis and foot joint deformities such as bunions.

So if you think your child may have flat feet it is vitally important you get their feet accurately assessed by one of our children’s podiatrists at our Melbourne foot clinic.

A children’s podiatrist is the best health professional to diagnose and treat paediatric flat feet.

Call us Melbourne Podiatrist

Does your child have fallen arches or flat feet?

At our Melbourne foot clinic our children’s podiatrists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s conditions affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. This includes paediatric flat feet or paediatric pes planus.

So if your child is complaining of sore or tired feet or you think they might have flat feet book an appointment with one of our friendly children’s podiatrists today!