Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Flat Foot Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Flatfoot

Toe stand. Photo by Vincent S. Mosca, MD.

Toe stand.

When a child has flexible flatfoot - the kind that needs no treatment - we can see an arch in the foot when the child stands on tiptoe or lets the foot hang down.

When children have rigid flatfoot, which may cause problems, we usually cannot see an arch even when they stand on tiptoe.

If children have pain, it is usually focused on one spot in the foot. It is not a general, achy feeling.

Flatfoot Diagnosis

Arch develops on toe standing. Courtesy of 'Fundamentals of Pediatric Orthopedics,' © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Arch develops on toe standing.

First, we examine your child's foot and ankle. We look at your child's feet as they stand up. We may ask your child to stand on tiptoe or dangle their foot in the air as they sit on an exam table.

We also check to make sure the joints in your child's feet and ankles all move well. If your child's ankle does not move much, it could mean that the Achilles tendon is shortened or tight. That may be a sign that your child has flexible flatfoot with short Achilles tendon.

If your child's feet hurt and they have the type of flatfoot that usually is not painful, we may take radiographs to get more information about what may be causing the pain.