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Flexible flatfeet is a common condition in children where the arches of the foot are visible while sitting, but disappear upon standing. The arch reappears when a child stands on their toes or the toes are hyperextended. Most children grow out of this mild deformity by the age of 7.
The muscles, bones and general structure of flatfeet are usually normal. What’s different, though, is most children with flatfeet are loose jointed, which means the joints are extra flexible, including the arch of the feet. As your child grows, the joints become less flexible and an arch will begin to appear.
Flatfeet usually have no symptoms. This condition does not cause any discomfort, disabilities, limitations in activities or permanent problems.
The doctor will take a full history, including any family history of flatfeet and will ask if there are any known neurologic or muscle diseases. During the physical exam, the doctor will evaluate the motion of the foot and inspect for any other deformities, such as a tight heel cord or rigid flatfeet. These other problems might require treatment.
Typically, no treatment is needed. If your child has pain or problems, stretching exercises can help and/or arch supports for their shoes. Surgery is rare and usually only used if flatfeet continue through adolescence or the feet become rigid instead of improving.
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