Children's Flat feet

Most babies have flat feet at first. Even during the toddler years, you won’t see much of arches under the feet because they aren’t developed yet and the soles have thick fat pads. That solid, flat foundation gives them more stability as they are learning to walk. Pediatric flatfoot starts to show up in early childhood when bones begin to harden and soft tissues in the foot contract and get stronger. That is when some kids’ feet remain flat instead of forming the curved bone structure we call the arch. But stay calm! That may not even be a problem.

To Parents and Guardians

We understand how exciting a time and how precious a memory it can be to see your child walking for the first time. And we also understand the worry and uncertainty that can arise if you start to notice something in your child’s walk that you did not expect to see.

Pediatric flatfoot is a condition that can certainly cause some concern, and it is absolutely the right call to seek a professional evaluation for it. 

Fortunately, most cases of pediatric flatfoot will resolve on their own as your child grows. There are some cases, however, where the abnormality will persist. Our duty to you and your child is to monitor development for signs of trouble and address any that arise as soon as possible. By doing so, we can greatly increase the chances that any potential complications from flat feet will be minimal or nonexistent through your child’s future.

Please find further information on pediatric flatfoot on this page, including answers to commonly asked questions. And do not hesitate to contact us should you have further questions or wish to schedule an evaluation for your child. We will gladly guide you every step of the way.”

Warm regards,

The Doctors at Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists

Types of Flat Feet in Children

Children's Foot CareMost kids will have a flexible variation of this condition. If your child stands on tiptoe or dangles his or her legs down while sitting, you will probably see the curve under the arch, but it disappears again when standing on the entire sole. Flexible flat feet are usually not painful. They normally don’t keep your child from walking or playing normally, and resolve on their own as he or she slowly develops an arch in the   first ten years of life. Even if the arch never forms, your child may never have any symptoms.

In some cases, however, the condition is exacerbated by a tarsal coalition (an unnatural joining of two bones in the back of the foot) or a short Achilles tendon. With these inherited traits, the foot joints can become more rigid, and an arch cannot be seen even when standing on tiptoe. This may lead to pain and stiffness as your child gets older and the bones solidify—although not always.

How Pediatric Flatfoot Is Treated

Flexible flatfoot that is causing no symptoms does not need any treatment at all. If you suspect the condition, but your child does not verbalize any painful symptoms, you can continue to watch for other indications of problems, such as not wanting to run and play or avoiding sports and games he or she used to love.

If your young one complains of aching legs or feet after activity, come in for a checkup. We can examine the foot structure and evaluate the symptoms that concern you. Many times a simple gel arch support you can buy at the pharmacy or at our on-line store will solve those problems. We normally don’t recommend rigid arch supports for flat feet in children.

If we find that the Achilles is too short and tight, we can manipulate and stretch it in the proper way to help alleviate and prevent soreness. These simple treatments can be very helpful, but there is always the rare case when surgery may be needed to find relief.

When a tarsal coalition causes your child to have stiff, rigid, painful flat feet, we can address that with surgery that separates the bones so they can move properly. We can also lengthen the heel bone with a graft so that the Achilles tendon is not as tight. Neither of these will be attempted until your child is older and all other means to alleviate the problem have proved ineffective.


Pediatric Flatfoot: FAQs

What is pediatric flatfoot?

Pediatric flatfoot is a condition in which the arches of a child’s foot are not present when they stand. You might still see the arches when they are not bearing weight, such as when your child is sitting down or standing on their toes. This particular situation is sometimes also referred to as flexible flatfoot.

What causes pediatric flatfoot?

Almost all children are born with flat feet, as the structure of the foot does not fully solidify until later in childhood (typically starting around 3 years of age). The situation starts to become more of a concern when arches do not begin to form as expected. 

This condition is often hereditary, meaning that if you, your parents, or other family members have flat feet while older, the chances are higher that your child may as well.

Other factors such as a tight Achilles tendon can also contribute to the condition.

At what age does pediatric flatfoot become a concern?

Typically, flat feet tend to disappear around the age of 6, but that is not set in stone. Some children may have their flat feet disappear sooner, and others later. 

If you are seeing signs of pediatric flatfoot in your child past the age of 5, an evaluation is usually recommended. You should also contact us anytime you believe your child’s flat feet is causing them pain or discomfort, or any other time you have questions and concerns.

Does pediatric flatfoot require treatment?

Depending on your child’s age and other factors, we will often monitor your child’s foot structure over time to ensure that proper development occurs and no problems arise.

Some children will continue to have flat feet into adulthood. However, if it is not causing pain or other symptoms, treatment will often not be necessary. Only if there is existing trouble (or potential for trouble) will treatment be considered.

How is pediatric flatfoot treated?

Depending on the factors influencing the condition and symptoms, we may make certain recommendations for treatment:

  • Stretches and exercises to help condition the arch and connected tissues.
  • The use of flexible or gel arch supports (we do not normally recommend rigid supports for flat feet in children).

Surgery is not typically necessary to address this condition, but may be required if more conservative methods of treatment are not effective. Surgical procedures might involve addressing specific issues influencing discomfort, such as tarsal coalition or a tight Achilles tendon.

We will always discuss all potential options with you and explain our recommendations before any decisions is made to move forward with treatment. Please never be afraid to ask us questions.

Stay Calm and Call Our Office

If your child’s feet seem stiff or they complain of pain, don’t panic. Instead, set up a consultation with the premier children’s foot and ankle specialists in Ladera Ranch. Dr. Robert Spencer, Dr. Nitza Rodriguez and Dr. Han Nguyen are experts at treating children’s foot and ankle ailments and will work with you to find the answer that is best for your son or daughter. Call Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists today at (949) 364-9255 (WALK) to schedule an appointment, or request one online through our contact form. Keep in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ as well for helpful tips and interesting information.

Contact Us

Robert Spencer, DPM

Nitza Rodriguez, DPM

Mario Porciello, DPM

Map & Directions

333 Corporate Drive, Suite 230, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
Tel: (949) 364-9255 (WALK)
Fax: (949) 364-9250
Office Hours:
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
*(Lunch 12 noon - 1pm)