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How to Treat Flat Feet in Children

Is there a cure for flat feet or fallen arches?

Flat feet or what is known medically as pes planus, is a commonly misunderstood foot condition. If you’re a parent, you don’t necessarily have to worry about how to treat flat feet in children unless your kid is starting to complain of foot (and/or leg) pain and difficulty in walking. In case he does complain, do consult an able doctor first for recommendations on how to treat flat feet symptoms.

Now what are these symptoms that we hope won’t accompany the presence of fallen arches in our young ones? These include:

  • Feet that get tired easily
  • Feet pain especially at the arches and heels
  • Swelling at the soles
  • Difficulty in tiptoeing or other foot movement
  • Leg and back pain

Cure for flat feet has more to do with dealing with these troublesome symptoms caused by it rather than doing something about the fallen arches. There really is not much you can do non-surgically to change your child’s foot structure. Don’t lose hope though, there may be things she can do to strengthen her feet muscles; these we’ll discuss later.

How to Treat Flat Feet Symptoms?

Doctors usually prescribe a combination of interventions.

1. First aid and medication for pain and swelling

For starters, if there is foot swelling, the doctor may prescribe rest and ice to relieve this. For really intense pain, one may prescribe medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to lessen the pain. Obviously, relief from these is temporary so other efforts should focus on symptom prevention.

2. Footwear that reduces fatigue and discomfort

For older children, a physical therapist, such as the case in Philip Physical Therapy, would usually advice them to use a pair of kids sandals or footwear that lessen fatigue and discomfort. There are a number of ways to do this.

  • One option is to have comfortable orthopedic kids sandals (or shoes) with flexible but protective soles, firm heel counters, and good arch supports, which in turn reduce the tension in the posterior tibialis tendon. In many cases, this does a lot for them already.
  • In other instances, a therapist suggests the use a shoe insert that can be bought off-the-shelf. This can improve the shoe’s fit and comfort as well as foot alignment to lessen tension on the soft tissue structures, and improve gait and posture.
  • Custom made orthotics for children is another option especially recommended for significant arch drops and for cases wherein the previous options fail.

Most of the time though, the first two options greatly lessen the pain symptoms already. Do note though that these inserts, orthotics, and orthopedic shoes for children do not change their feet structure.

3. Physical Therapy

Aside from proper footwear, cure for flat feet can include proper exercises that help strengthen the calf muscles and the posterior tibialis muscle, the tissues that support the fallen arch.

4. Foot Surgery

Surgery is considered a last resort and is usually for extreme cases only. The kind of surgery depends on the kind of pes planus being treated. It can involve the fusing, removing, or cutting bones in the feet or ankles; or adding a tendon or grafting a bone.

If your child is young, rather than thinking of how to treat flat feet, find ways for her to naturally develop her feet and leg muscles instead. Encourage your toddler to walk and play barefoot. Doing so promotes healthy development of the muscles in her tootsies. Unless she is playing outside or walking on rough ground, you can temporarily toss aside those kids sandals and have some barefoot fun instead.


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