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Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Flatfoot

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First, we always evaluate your child to find out what type of flatfoot they may have. Your child needs treatment only if flatfoot causes pain or disability.

Flatfoot Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatments for flatfoot

If your child has normal flexible flatfoot that doesn’t hurt, we recommend no treatment. Your child should wear regular shoes and be treated no differently than if their feet had arches.

If your child has general aching pain in the feet or legs after activities, we recommend a simple and inexpensive over-the-counter cushioned arch support or a running shoe with a built-in arch support.

To treat flexible flatfoot with a short Achilles tendon, we may attempt to stretch the Achilles tendon. It is more difficult to stretch this tendon if your child has flatfoot than it is if they have an average-height arch. It requires us to rotate the foot inward to elevate the arch while the Achilles tendon is being stretched.

We suggest you avoid using hard arch supports for flexible flatfoot with a tight Achilles tendon. These rigid arch supports, often made of hard plastic, can cause more pain than children have without them.

Surgery for Flatfoot

In rare cases, flatfoot is not helped by more conservative treatment and children need surgery to relieve their pain.

In almost all cases that require surgery, the child is at least 8 years old and their Achilles tendon is short. Surgery involves lengthening the short Achilles tendon as well as correcting the flatfoot deformity.

The doctor lengthens the heel bone (calcaneus) using a bone graft inserted on the outer side/edge of the middle of the foot. This procedure is called calcaneal lengthening osteotomy.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

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