Ever had a flat tire? The diagnosis isn’t always obvious, at least not until you take it in for a repair. Maybe you ran over a nail. Maybe it’s sidewall damage. Maybe a leaky valve. Likewise, flat feet could have a number of possible causes that may vary in severity.
If we’re talking about flat feet in your toddler, the most likely explanation by far is simply the fact that bones are still soft and growing. Many youngsters have what’s known as “flexible flatfoot,” meaning the arch disappears when standing but reappears when not bearing weight. Most kids grow out of it by around age 6 as the arch continues to develop, and very few experience any negative symptoms.
However, frequently children born with flat feet never really develop an arch. This is relatively normal, and while it could lead to pain or other difficulties in adulthood, it won’t necessarily require treatment if not causing symptoms.
In other cases, a more serious problem may be causing an inherited flatfoot condition. One example is tarsal coalition, which can cause rigid, flat arches in teenagers as a consequence of bones near the heal growing into one another. Conditions like these are more likely to require active treatment to manage or relieve discomfort.
Of course, once-healthy arches can also flatten over time, which is known generally as adult-acquired flatfoot. To some extent this is a normal result of ordinary wear and tear. For nearly everyone, feet tend to flatten and widen as they age. However, certain problems can cause a much more rapid and severe flattening. Possible underlying causes include inflammatory arthritis (such as RA), a torn posterior tibial tendon, or an acute injury. Those who participate in high-impact sports or are overweight are also at increased risk.
Although your age and symptoms can provide key clues, the best decision in any case of flatfoot—especially if there is pain or discomfort—is to contact Carolina Podiatry Group for an evaluation. With a positive diagnosis, we can craft a treatment plan tailored to your specific condition and needs. Please fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 888-569-9559 to schedule an appointment.