What are flat feet?
A foot is described as flat if the arch on the inner border of the foot is not as high as normal. This may also give the appearance that the ankle bone on the inside is more prominent or that the whole foot seems tilted out the way.
Is it serious?
Most children have some degree of flat-foot and it is usually quite normal. This is because children have more springy tissues than adults and slightly more fat in the soles of their feet making their feet look flatter. Everyone is different and some children appear to have flatter feet than others. This sort of variation is quite normal.
Very occasionally a flat foot can be a sign of a more serious problem but the doctor will be able to spot this by examining your child. If only one foot is flat or the foot is painful then it is a good idea to be seen by a doctor. Special tests are not usually needed. If your doctor is happy that there is nothing to worry about then you should consider the appearance of your child’s feet as perfectly normal and know that it will not limit your child in any way.
Should they be treated?
Studies have shown that insoles or arch supports do not help the arches of the foot to develop in childhood. We know that without treatment 96% of children will have normal arches by age 14. We do not recommend using any insoles or special exercises because we know that the feet will develop normally without them. People did not realize this before which is why you may have heard of all sorts of different treatments being used in the past.
What if the feet are still flat at age 14?
The 4% of children who do not develop a normal arch by 14 almost never have any problems with their feet. Occasionally some adults with flexible flat feet can develop ankle or knee pain with sports in which case an arch supporting shoe or insole can be helpful at that stage.
If you require this information in a community language or alternative format e.g. Braille, audio, large print, BSL, Easy Read please contact the Equality and Human Rights Team at: email: fife.EqualityandHumanRights@nhs.scot or phone 01592 729130. For people with a hearing or verbal impairment you can also contact the team via the NHS Fife SMS text service number on 07805800005.
You can also find health related information on many topics in an Easy Read format on nhsinform.scot.