What to look for and what to do
Flatfoot deformity is not normal and should not be expected to go away before adulthood. If flat feet in children was the norm, there would be no flat feet in adulthood. Your children may be telling you more than you realize if they are suffering from collapsed or weakened arches in their feet.
Normal development of the feet often times initially demonstrates a 'flat' appearing foot. The arch of an infant typically has a fat pad that serves as nourishment to the developing foot. This fat pad reduces over time. After about age 2, the feet should continually develop a more and more prominent arch. Evaluating kids for flat foot involves more than looking at the arch, though.
While the arch of the foot is where most people look to see if a foot is flat, the orientation of the backs of the heels tells a lot of the story. There can be instability of this heel bone which allows the entire rest of the foot to compensate and 'collapse' at various points. In addition, there are sometimes coalitions of the feet that contribute to flat foot. A coalition is a genetic phenomenon in which two bones heal together rather than creating a joint. When these coalitions occur, there is less flexibility and room for correction of this flat foot.
In kids with a history of flat feet - meaning that mom, dad, grandma or grandpa have flat feet - they are likely to inherit this same foot type. Similarly, a child with high arched feet in the family are likely to inherit high arched feet. The overall structure of the foot and the amount of pronation in the foot will dictate the pull of certain muscles and tendons in the foot which can lead to deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. It also can cause a variety of tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and can even predispose one to stress fractures.
If you believe your child may have flat feet, a simple evaluation can help to determine if there is a need to treat this. An ounce of prevention saves from the need for correction later. The only way we know how to prevent adult deformities of the foot is to correct and support the foot structure in developing children. Call our office today for an appointment!