The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Parents Take Note: Flat Feet and Club Feet in Kids

Posted by on Thursday, March 21st, 2013

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There is nothing more precious than the tiny feet of a newborn baby. Those little toes that wiggle when you touch them, that soft skin, those plump heels—it’s enough to make even the staunchest among us swoon. In many cases, baby feet are perfectly healthy. In some, foot problems only appear later, when the child begins to walk. And sometimes, foot problems are apparent right away and require early treatment. Here are some of the most common foot problems in children, and tips about interventions that can help.

Flat Feet

A baby with flat feet will lack arches. This is the same presentation you’d see in an adult with this problem. Flat feet occur in 3% to 13% of children, and many of them require some kind of treatment. Without it, kids may overpronate, which can affect gait and may predispose the child to injury. One very important note: children are born without arches. This is completely normal. Most will develop complete arches by age six. You’ll typically see the beginnings of an arch by two or three. So relax. This is a bit of a waiting game (like so much else in parenthood). However, if you notice your child walking strangely, favoring her feet, or complaining of pain, you should always take her to a doctor.

If your child’s feet look flat when she walks but otherwise have an arch, she may have flexible flatfoot. If there is no pain, this intermediary condition will likely resolve on its own. You can help your child’s arches develop by letting her go barefoot as much as possible. When you do put her in shoes, make sure they’re very supportive and that they fit well. (You can use this handy guide!)

If your child doesn’t develop arches by six years old, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Try The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.

Club Feet

This may sound like something out of a Dickens novel but club feet are actually reasonably common, occurring in 1 out of every 1000 births. Club feet turn inward or downward (or both). This problem is actually visible on an ultrasound, so you may know about it well before the baby arrives. While this is a problem that requires intervention, it is very treatable. Typically a podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon, and/or physiotherapist will use a variety of methods to correct the deformity including braces, manipulation, and splints. This is called the Ponseti Method. Podiatrists may also use Botox to relax muscles in the feet. In severe cases surgery may be required but don’t despair. This common disorder can usually be treated with complete success.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.