Fallen arches are a form of flat feet also known as pes planus. While flat feet can be present in some children their entire life due to non-developing arches, fallen arches occur after the arch has formed. This condition causes the entire sole of the foot to be in contact with the ground while standing.
Fallen arches most commonly occur in adulthood but can occur anytime after arches have formed. Flat feet often don’t cause any issues, especially in children, although treatment exists in case they do cause discomfort, pain, or injuries.
Signs and Symptoms
Fallen arches in children are typically asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms are present. If symptoms do show, you should contact a professional care provider as soon as possible to prevent any further complications.
Symptoms of fallen arches in children may include:
- Swelling around the ankle, most commonly the inner side
- Difficulty standing or walking for long periods
- An eventual outward tilt of the heel or ankle
- Pain traveling up the leg or near the back
- Pain that increases due to activity
- Leg cramps
- Withdrawing from physical activity
- Increased fatigue
- Toe drift
Symptomatic flat feet or fallen arches in children should always be examined and treated as needed. Untreated fallen arches can cause long-term problems for not only a child’s feet but their legs, tendons, and back as well.
Causes for flat feet can vary, and there are even more possible causes for fallen arches. Some of these causes include:
- Torn or stretched tendons
- Dislocated or broken bones
- Inflammation of tendons such as the Achilles tendon or posterior tibial tendon
- Underlying health conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cerebral palsy
- High blood pressure
To diagnose fallen arches, a doctor will look at a few things. This includes examining the appearance of the feet and whether or not the arch is present when standing.
The doctor will examine the movement and range of motion of the ankles and how the child walks. In addition, they may order tests such as X-rays or CT scans.
Treatment is not always necessary for fallen arches, but if concerns arise, a professional should be contacted. A doctor can access and provide the proper treatment for the severity of each case.
If treatment is necessary, a few options are available. These include:
- Physical therapy
- Medications to aid with pain, discomfort, or inflammation
- Exercises to stretch muscles, strengthen tendons, and increase mobility
- Supportive shoes, braces, or orthotics
Surgical intervention is also available to repair the feet, relieving pain and discomfort as well as long-term complications. Reconstructive surgery can reshape the foot by repairing the bones and tendons, usually resolving any problems.
Fallen arches in children and all cases of flat feet should never go unchecked. If flat feet are not treated, it can lead to a number of problems, including joint problems, rolling of the ankles, back problems, and misalignments.
Contact a trusted medical professional if you believe your child may have fallen arches or if you have any questions regarding proper care.