A child's foot is normally round and chubby looking at birth. As soon as they reach the age where they start to move, their feet begin to change shape. While their feet are still somewhat flat, they are becoming more defined and their arch begins to form. The more they walk and stretch their feet, the faster the arch tends to disappear. For some children, however, the flatness along the bottom of their feet doesn't change and can eventually start to affect their gait and cause foot pain.
Signs of Pediatric Flat Feet
By the age of six, a child will have outgrown most signs of flat feet. Approximately one-fifth of children will retain some sign of flat feet. A child's stride or gait can be a direct indicator of flat feet. You may also be able to identify specific wear patterns on the soles of the child's shoes that indicate an abnormal angle at which the foot makes contact with the walking surface. Most podiatrists who specialize in pediatric foot care are made aware of the condition because the child is complaining of foot pain.
Does It Go Away?
The more a child moves on their feet, the stronger the musculoskeletal system becomes. This results in a stiffer, stronger foot. As the foot becomes stronger, and the connective tissues tighten, the child has more control over their movements.
For some children, the ligaments and tendons may not mature at the same rate. The Achilles tendon that runs along the back of the heel can become overly tight, making it difficult for the child to move their foot.
In most cases, rigid forms of flat feet are not present in children, but may be corrected with certain types of stretching exercises that lengthen and tone the soft tissues. In a normal pediatric foot, flat feet will gradually disappear. For others, treatment may be needed to encourage the problem to correct itself.
What If They Don't Outgrow It?
If it becomes apparent that a child's flat feet are not outgrowing their flatness, it's important to make an appointment with your New Hampshire podiatrist. While there may be no cause to worry at the moment, over time, the changes to your child's gait can lead to ankle, knee and hip pain.
It can also cause shoes to not fit properly. When shoes do not form to the foot as they should, the friction can lead to sores and lesions that are hard to heal.
At Nagy Footcare, Dr. Nagy understands the unique problems that flat feet can cause for a developing child. He has several tools and resources at his disposal that will allow him to correct the problem and help your child regain their ability to walk with a normal gait.
Orthotics and Forms of Treatment
Orthotics are sometimes used to help strengthen and tone the musculoskeletal structure of the feet. When combined with stretching exercises, the feet gradually begin to adapt. Tendons can be made longer and more flexible through the use of stretching exercises, while orthotics can provide stability to all areas of the foot as it continues to grow and develop.
Depending on the signs that your child exhibits, Dr. Nagy will be able to create a treatment plan specifically for their needs. With the customized orthotics and properly fitting shoes, many of the issues can be corrected. Regular stretching and exercising of the feet will also help to encourage the structure of the feet to assume a more natural position.
If your child is exhibiting signs of flat feet, take proactive measures especially if they are nearing their 6th birthday or are experiencing any type of foot pain. A visit to with a New Hampshire podiatrist at Nagy Footcare will help to identify any potential problems before they become severe. Taking care of your children's feet should always be a priority. Contact Dr. Nagy for an initial consultation today!
At Nagy Footcare, our best day is when you wake up with no foot pain.