Flat feet affect most children but nearly all will grow out of it by the time they turn five.

Overview

What are flat feet?

If you are looking at the sole of your child’s foot, you may see that there is no arch on the inner side – this should extend from the heel to where the big toe starts.

Cause

Almost all children have flat feet until around age 5. Approximately 1:5 children will never develop an arch.

Of this 20% of children with flat feet after the age of 5, the majority will never have any problems from them.

Diagnosis

If the feet are painful or stiff, only one foot is affected or if your child regularly sprains their ankle it is usually best to get an orthopaedic surgeon to assess their feet as sometimes there is an underlying reason for the flat feet that can be treated.

A doctor can carry out a physical exam and may suggest X-rays to rule out any underlying issues with the hip or knee joints.


Treatment

As many children will grow out of flat feet, often no treatment is needed. However, a small minority may experience some pain and therefore there are a few options to consider:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Stretches
  • Supportive shoes
  • Arch supporting insoles

It is important to be assessed to ensure that you are recommended the correct insoles or supports, as the wrong ones may increase the discomfort

Surgery

In a small handful of cases, surgery may be suggested. For example, if the flat feet are caused by fused foot bones (tarsal coalitions). This is usually only recommended if initial treatment such as insoles or physio have failed to improve the symptoms.


Helpful resources


A patient's story

Ellis

"I wanted to thank you for not only your work on Ellis' elbow, but your positive attitude and swift treatment. Everything healed well and Ellis is now back at the gym and will start competing in CrossFit - I don't think he would be doing this without your help."

Ian, Dad to Ellis

Where we work

We are based at The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton and also see children at The Portland hospital, London and 4 Harley Street, London. We offer a range of clinics, so can see your child at a time that is convenient for you.

The Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital


Eastern Road


Brighton


BN2 5BE

The Portland Hospital


2nd floor, 215 Great Portland Street


London


W1W 5AH

4 Harley Street


London


W1G 9PB