Flatfeet in Children – What is pes planus?

The shape of our feet changes greatly as we grow. A baby's foot has mostly cartilage framework as the bones haven't completely ossified at birth. The structure and muscles are usually hidden by baby fat thus the lack of contour. As we begin to walk, the foot begins to form an arch and displace the fat to the appropriate areas of the foot. A fairly common problem for some children is the lack of an arch. You may know this as flat feet but your podiatrist refers to it as pes planus.

Many children may reach 8 to 10 years old, or older, before they start to complain of pain in their feet. They may shy away from running or other physical activities because of the pain or discomfort in their feet. By avoiding the problem in this manner, an individual can put themselves at risk for much more pain and greater damage to their feet latter in life. A customized orthotic, or shoe insert made specifically for your foot, can help a young child develop an arch and proper foot mechanics as they grow. The orthotic helps the foot to function in better alignment allowing form to follow function.

It is important to avoid ‘custom fit' kiosks at the store or going directly to an orthotic manufacturer. Your podiatrist needs to assess your specific flat foot with x-ray and physical exam in order to ‘dial in' the appropriate corrective insert for your feet. Using an improperly designed orthotic can actually cause more problems. This is especially true if the pes planus involves bones that are locked together. Dr. Thomajan can identify ‘flexible' versus ‘rigid' types of flatfeet in order to give you the best treatment possible. They painful ‘rigid' types may require surgery if severe enough, but by seeking treatment early surgery may not be necessary.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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