What is pediatric flatfoot?

Flatfoot is a condition that can affect both adults and children. In children, it is called “pediatric flatfoot.” When a child has pediatric flatfoot, the arch of the foot shrinks or disappears when he or she stands. The arch reappears when the child sits or stands on tiptoe. This is called flexible pediatric flatfoot.

Most children who have pediatric flatfoot are born with the condition, though it may not appear for a few years. Children will usually outgrow pediatric flatfoot on their own by the age of five.

A second, more rare kind of pediatric flatfoot is called rigid flatfoot. With this condition, the arches do not reappear when the child sits or stands on tiptoe.

What are the symptoms of pediatric flatfoot?

Most children with pediatric flatfoot have no symptoms. A parent or caregiver usually notices the condition.

Symptoms children may experience include:

  • Pain, tenderness, and/or cramping in the feet or legs, especially along the bottom of the feet
  • Heels that tilt outward
  • A change in walking
  • Pain or discomfort while walking

Parents may also notice their child withdrawing from sports and other physical activities that may cause pain in their feet and legs.

If your child experiences any of these symptoms, you should consult with your pediatrician.

Children affected by rigid flatfoot may experience more severe symptoms. Those affected with tarsal coalition, an abnormal joining of two bones in the feet, may begin to experience symptoms at preadolescence.

Children with a condition called congenital vertical talus, which causes a rigid rocker bottom appearance, may begin to experience symptoms at walking age.

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