It is normal for growing children to have flat feet during their early childhood years. Also, they are likely to grow out of this condition with progressing age. But it is normal for parents to worry about their children having a flat foot.
Flat foot is known as pes planus in medical terms. In this condition, the foot has no arch or a very low arch. At the ground level, the foot is completely flat.
In this article, Dr. Ratnav Ratan, a leading orthopedic doctor in Gurgaon, shares useful information for parents worried about their children’s flat foot condition.
As flat foot and pronated foot nearly go together, parents have to keenly observe for the pronated foot if their child has a flat foot condition. Pronated feet condition refers to the condition in which the foot rolls either inward or outward and the heel to distribute the foot’s impact when landing on the ground.
Generally, a child with a flat foot condition does not complain of pain or discomfort associated with that area. Nearly 44% of the children in three to six years have a visible flat foot when they stand and walk.
Dr. Ratnav Ratan of Young Bones Clinic further states, ‘If your child has flat feet, then make sure they walk with their feet bare as much as possible so that they develop normal tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones in the foot and ankle area. Also, the correction of flat foot happens as the muscles strengthen and soft tissues mature with progressing age. The height of the arch fully grows by the time child reaches nine years of age. So, it is possible that the child outgrows the flat foot condition by then.
‘ Dr. Ratnav Ratan also states the causes for flat foot, one of them being that it is an inherited condition. The child is born with an arch that becomes flat due to flexibility. In case the flat foot further develops into severe conditions such as congenital calcaneal valgus, tarsal coalitions, vertical talus, the foot will not have an arch.
The other reasons for developing a flat foot could be the child’s sitting or sleeping position, the footwear worn, the child’s weight, a tight Achilles tendon, and so on. An overweight child is likely to put more weight on their legs and feet and hence a flat foot condition. The child with a painful flat foot is likely to complain of heel or hip or back pain, or bunions, and/or shin splints. In such cases, parents’ awareness plays a vital role in ensuring that they do not develop flat foot conditions.
Dr. Ratnav Ratan advises, ‘Parents should approach a qualified orthopedic doctor for accurate diagnosis and evaluation of the flat foot condition. The doctor will test for muscle weakness, tightness, mobility in the ankle and fore, and hindfoot. The doctor can suggest a heel test or a wet footprint and ascertain the extent of the flat food or a lower arch along with X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.’
It is essential to manage the cause of the flat foot condition while treating the pain associated with flat foot non-surgically. The orthopedic doctor can recommend suitable footwear to manage excess joint flexibility or reduce weight in an overweight child with flat foot complaints.
Parents of children aged six years and above with flat foot conditions should make them wear special footwear with a flexible sole, good arch support, and a firm heel counter. This special footwear supports the tendon and reduces the pressure and tension on the flat foot. The treating orthopedic surgeon can recommend the use of suitable orthotics for additional support.
Dr. Ratnav Ratan is available for consultation and treatment at Young Bones Clinic at W Pratiksha Hospital, Sec 56 – Gurgaon, Haryana. He can be reached at +91-82795 51675 and his email id is – [email protected]
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