How to Know if Your Child has Flat Feet

I see a lot of children brought in by their parents who complain of the child being unable to stand or enjoy prolonged activities on their feet. Sometimes the complaint is that they run funny. Seldom do kids complain of pain. They usually just complain of being tired. 

How do you tell if your child has flat feet?

It is normal to have flat feet when children are very young.  The arch forms in most children gradually up to the age of 6 to 8.  The easiest way to tell is by watching the child from behind and looking at the heels and ankles. If the heel bows out and the ankle bows inward you may have a problem.  Another way is to get the child’s foot wet and make them walk on cement and look at the foot print.  If they have an arch that touches the ground that could be a problem. This way is less sensitive because the deformity has to be quite severe before it shows up in a foot print. 

Are all flat feet a problem? 

Not always.  Some people have very stable flat feet that function quite well.  But most of the time that is not true.

What problems can arise when you have flat feet?

Most of the time the complaints center around not begin able to keep up with other kids or just getting tired. The long term problems are more serious.  Arthritis, joint subluxation, or laxity and can all occur. Knee and hip pain can occur because there is a twisting component in most flat feet.  A lot of times the only manifestation is an unconscious avoidance of activity.  The child just slowly stops doing things that require them to be on their feet.  Instead of playing with friends outside they play video games or read or just sit.  Usually the child is a little overweight because it is difficult for them to burn calories normally.  As they gain weight their feet and legs get tired more quickly and they avoid more activity.  Also as they age the added weight hastens the onset of joint pain and arthritis.  

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