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What to do when your child has a 'flat foot'

Flat foot is a condition where the soles of your feet touch the ground. This condition is highly uncomfortable. The lack of arches in feet causes variety of health issues. The following article helps you and your child tackle this disorder.

Flat Foot is a problem that is ignored quite a lot. As the name suggests, people suffering from this disorder have very low or no arches in their feet. All children have flat feet in the infancy stage. Their legs appear flat because of the layers of fat accumulated at the feet of the babies. But if the flat feet persist even after the age of 5 or 6, it can be troublesome. For some, flat feet make no difference in health. While in others it leads to a serious pain in legs because of uneven distribution of weight in the legs.

Flat feet vs normal feet
(Image credits= www.hyprocure.com)

What causes Flat feet

  1. Genetic factors can induce flat feet because flat feet is hereditary.

  2. Weakness in the arch muscles of one's feet.

  3. Injuries.

  4. Arthritis.

  5. Muscle disorders in feet.

  6. Tarsal Coalition- bones in feet fuse together resulting in stiff and flat feet.

  7. Diabetic patients can develop flat feet too. Obesity, without saying, causes flattening of feet. Pregnancy too can lead into temporary flat feet.

  8. Flat feet develops during childhood and care must be taken in initial stages itself.

Problems faced by people with flat foot

  1. Pain in feet at ankles and near fingers.

  2. Pain in hips, knees, lower back, calves and in lower leg can also occur.

  3. Flat feet causes your toe to tilt a bit, wearing off the shoes quickly.

  4. In extreme cases, sufferers find it difficult and painful to walk or run. Due to more contact with the ground in case of flat feet, the skin of the sole of the feet can be under a lot of tension.

  5. Having flat feet would dramatically decrease the confidence level of a child.

Types of flat feet

  1. Flexible flat feet: Here the arches in legs appear only when the feet are removed off the ground. This kind is hardly painful.

  2. Short Achilles tendon : Achilles tendon attaches calf bone with heels. Having a short tendon might hurt the child when walking or running.

  3. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction: This happens when the tendon attaching ankles to the calf get damaged by injury or swelling. This causes intense pain in the ankle region.

Treatment for flat feet

  1. Since the lack of arches causes pain in feet, supportive shoes are prescribed for children with flat feet. These shoes have inserts that form a fake arch in your legs.

  2. If the flat feet is due to obesity or diabetes, proper exercise and diet can reduce the pressure on feet.

  3. For some extreme cases anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.

  4. Depending on the type of flat feet and the severity, a foot surgery is performed by doctors. This is quite rare and is only performed for the most extreme of cases.

  5. There are many exercises that try to give shape and arch to the flat feet -
    • Rolling a ball can help to build the arches in feet.

    • By stretching calf muscles, either while standing upright or by leaning against a wall while locking your knee. Or you could use a towel to pull your feet towards you.

    • You can try to crumble a towel or paper using your toes without moving your heels.

    • You can simply clench your toes to maintain the arch shape for few seconds.

    • By walking on your toes for few minutes every day you can maintain the arch muscles.

Flat feet in children is very much ignored because flat feet rarely cause serious discomfort to the sufferers. But this is a deep physical and psychological scar in a child's mind. This can make the child feel incapable to a great extent. The child might skip athletics altogether though flat feet doesn't adversely affect the performance of an athlete. Flat feet cannot be corrected but the exercises and supports can help to reduce the symptoms. This is a classic example of how even a minor ailment can adversely affect a child's self-esteem.


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