Flat Feet In Kids – Do I Need To Worry?

Written by Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna on Fri, 08 December 2023

Key Highlights

  • Flat feet are characterized by a lack of arches in the feet, causing the entire sole to touch the floor when standing. It's common in babies and toddlers due to underdeveloped arches but usually corrects itself as they age.
  • Flat feet are often a normal developmental condition that tends to run in families. Genetic association and increased joint movements can contribute to the development of flat feet in children.
  • Types of flat feet include Flexible Flat Feet, Rigid Flat Feet, Adult-Acquired (Fallen Arch), and Vertical Talus.
  • Flat feet in children are typically painless and may resolve with age. If pain occurs, medical advice is recommended.
  • Symptoms may include muscle pain, leg spasms, painful feet, pain while walking, and toe drift.
  • Diagnosis by a pediatrician may be sufficient if there is no pain or symptoms. 

Flat feet in babies are a common condition that usually resolves on its own as the child grows and develops. Infants are born with a pad of fat where their arch will eventually form, so their feet may appear flat until the arch develops. However, if the child has still not developed an arch by the age of 2 to 3 years or if they are experiencing pain or difficulty in walking, parents should get a professional opinion for the same. In most cases, flat feet in babies are a normal part of development and do not require intervention.

Is My Baby Having Flat Feet?

Flat feet are exactly what the name implies, the feet are flatter on the bottom and cause the entire sole of the foot to touch the floor when standing. It is a common condition in babies and toddlers because the arches in their feet have not developed. As their age progresses, flat feet tend to disappear. In some cases, flat feet can be observed in adults. Although this condition is usually painless, in some cases when associated with pain, treatment can help.

Flat feet are a normal developmental condition and can cause due to a genetic association with flat feet as it often runs in families. It often gets corrected when a child grows up. However, if persists, it further affects the alignment of the body and can lead to knee or ankle discomfort.

Types Of Flat Feet

Types Of Flat Feet

Generally, flat feet can be observed during childhood. If it persists, it can cause certain problems in adulthood. Flat feet are further categorized into the following types based on at which they occur:

1. Flexible

It is the most common type of flat feet. You may observe the absence of arches when your child stands. However, when they are not standing, you can observe the little arches. Flexible flat feet can be observed from childhood till they reach their teenage years. It may get worse as your child grows to cause tendons or ligament stretch, tear, or swell.

2. Rigid

When your child’s feet appear flat while standing or sitting, it may be a rigid flat foot condition. It usually occurs when your child reaches the teenage years. Rigid flat feet can be a painful condition and may affect one or both feet.

3. Adult-acquired (fallen arch)

In this condition, there is a collapse of the foot’s arch. It makes your feet turn outward and is often a painful condition. Adult-acquired flat feet are commonly caused due the inflammation or tear of the leg tendon supporting foot’s arch.

4. Vertical Talus

Vertical talus is a congenital condition in which the foot’s arch fails to develop. This occurs due to the wrong positioning of the talus bone. In the vertical talus, the foot appears as a rocking chair, hence this condition is also known as a rocker-bottom foot. It usually affects babies.

Causes Of Flat Feet

The main cause of flat feet is genetic. In some children, increased joint movements or double joints can result in flat feet.

Signs And Symptoms Of Flat Feet

Flat feet in kids might be a temporary condition and might disappear with age. It is usually not associated with any pain or discomfort. However, if your child complains of pain, you can take medical advice.1 You can observe the following signs and symptoms of flat feet.

  • Muscle pain
  • Leg spasm
  • Painful feet
  • Pain while walking
  • Toe drift

Diagnosis Of Flat Feet

Here is how a doctor may diagnose flat foot:

If your child has flat feet but no pain or symptoms, further testing is usually unnecessary after a diagnosis from their pediatrician.

The doctor may observe your child walking, standing, and running, as well as examine their everyday shoes to identify potential causes of pain.

In cases of significant foot pain, doctors may order imaging tests like X-rays, EOS imaging (which creates 3D models), CT scans (providing cross-sectional images), or MRI scans (providing detailed images without radiation exposure).

Is Treatment Needed For Flat Feet?

Is Treatment Needed For Flat Feet

Normally, flat feet will disappear when your child turns six. However, in those children, where the flat feet condition persists, no treatment is required unless it is painful. In certain conditions like rigid flat feet, an x-ray is advised to check if there is the presence of fused bones. Additionally, the following condition may require medical assistance:

1. Tight Heel (Achilles Tendon)

If your child complains about the tightness of the heel cord, he can develop flat feet. This may restrict the mobility of the foot. It is usually treated with specially designed stretching exercises which help in lengthening the heel cord.

2. Rigid Feet (Tarsal Coalition)

Though very rare, your child may develop rigid flat feet due to tarsal coalition. The child may find it difficult to move feet up, down, and side to side. It is usually associated with pain and can cause arthritis. This condition can be observed in infants or young children.

Conclusion: Summarizing Flat Feet

Flat feet are a condition in which a child’s feet appear flat while standing. As a child’s age progresses, the arch is developed due to less flexibility. This condition usually disappears after your child turns 6. It required no treatment if the child didn’t complain of any pain or discomfort.


Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna

Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna graduated from Ukraine's Uzhhorod National Medical University, Faculty of Medicine, in 1999. She further pursued her post graduation studies at Lviv National Medical University between 1999-2000. She then spent 16 years (2000-2016) at the same university as the resident doctor neurologist. Since 2016,Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna has been associated as a medical representative with Mega We Care.

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Current Version

Dec, 08 2023

Written By

Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna