When Is Surgery Necessary for Kids With Flat Feet

When Is Surgery Necessary for Kids With Flat Feet?

Table of Contents

Most parents notice that their children have flat feet or an absence of an arch. However, it’s also something that most children grow out of when they reach the age of five. But when is surgery necessary for kids with flat feet? We will discuss the causes, symptoms, and eventual treatment of this condition.

Surgery for flat feet in children is generally considered a last resort option after other non-surgical treatments have been exhausted. The decision to perform surgery on a child’s flat feet should be made by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, who will take into account the child’s age, the severity of the condition, and the child’s overall health.

Children’s flat feet can be a normal variation and may not require any treatment. For some children, flat feet may cause pain, discomfort, or difficulty with activities such as sports, which can be treated with non-surgical options such as physical therapy, orthotics, and shoe inserts.

Surgery may be considered if non-surgical options are not providing adequate relief or if the flat feet are causing problems with the child’s normal growth and development. The main indications for surgery are:

  • Severe pain
  • Difficulty walking or standing for long periods
  • Limitations in physical activity
  • Progressive or irreversible changes in the foot and ankle.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flat feet are a natural occurrence for very young children. However, about one in five kids, or 20%, never develop an arch. The causes for this may vary – some of them inherit it from their parents, while others have this issue as a genetic condition. There are some factors that can influence and increase the risk of developing the condition, including:

  • Diabetes,
  • Obesity,
  • Aging,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Ankle or foot injuries.

Should You Worry if Your Child Doesn’t Develop an Arch?

It may happen that your child falls into the category with other children that never develop an arch. However, if your child doesn’t show any symptoms or issues with it, there is no reason to be alarmed. Within the 20% of children with flat feet, the majority of them never develop later problems.

Child's feet covered with sand

When Should You Take Your Child to the Doctor?

If your child hasn’t developed an arch until the age of five, and the symptoms of flat feet are already showing, it’s time to take them to an orthopedic surgeon. The symptoms may include foot pain that is specifically located in the arch area or in the heel. However, foot pain can also be a symptom of bunions, so talk to your orthopedic surgeon about minimally invasive bunion surgery.

The foot pain that noticeably increases along with any activity is a certain sign that your child either has flat feet or needs minimally invasive hammertoe surgery. Along with it, you may also notice some ankle swelling or tight chords on heels. If your child experiences any foot pain, you should definitely consult your doctor.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose the Cause?

Once you take your child to an orthopedic surgeon, they will perform a complete medical history, run a physical examination and perhaps suggest a foot X-ray. They might also suggest an X-ray of the hip and the knee just to rule out any possible issues with these joints.

The doctor will also ask a few questions, such as to describe the type of pain they are experiencing and whether it is sharp or dull, sudden or burning. They will also ask whether there are any specific activities that worsen the pain or relieve it.

Two doctors looking at a screen

When Is Surgery Necessary for Kids With Flat Feet?

Children that have flat feet when they are small usually grow out of it by the moment they reach five years of age. However, parents that notice that their children are experiencing issues such as pain or any other symptoms should reach out to an orthopedic surgeon and talk to them about trying one of the following approaches to rebuilding arches in flat feet:

  • Stretches,
  • A specific type of running shoe for flat feet,
  • Specialized insoles which support the arch,
  • Physiotherapy.

However, if any of these approaches have failed to make improvements, your doctor will recommend surgery. This only happens in rare cases, and it might be an option if your child’s condition is caused by fused bones. This happens when the bones in the foot do not develop properly, and they abnormally connect, which in turn causes problems with foot motion.

A surgeon performing surgery

Consult the Surgeon About the Flat Feet Surgery Your Kid Needs to Undergo

If you notice that your child has any discomfort or pain because of their flat feet, you should consult your doctor immediately. Get informed of all the steps you can take to try and treat the condition, as well as the surgery.

If you want to be sure you have the right medical professionals by your side, reach out to our team at Luxe Foot Surgery Center. We are here to answer all your questions, and together we will decide what’s best for you and your family. Contact us today to book your appointment by filling out the form on our website. 

FAQ

At What Age Can Flat Feet Be Corrected?

If your child is over five years of age and has not developed an arch, you should consult a doctor immediately. If the child requires surgery, they need to be at least eight and have a short Achilles tendon.

Can Kids Have Flat Foot Surgery?

Children who haven’t seen improvement with different approaches to their flat foot condition can undergo surgery. These are rare cases and are always determined by the orthopedic surgeon.

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