If your child has a flatfoot, his or her doctor will ask about any family history of flatfeet or inherited foot problems. In a person of any age, the doctor will ask about occupational and recreational activities, previous foot trauma or foot surgery, and the type of shoes worn.
The doctor will examine the person's shoes to check for signs of excessive wear. Worn shoes often provide valuable clues to gait problems and poor bone alignment. The doctor will ask the person to walk barefoot to evaluate the arch of the feet, to check for out-toeing, and to look for other signs of poor foot mechanics.
The doctor will examine the feet for foot flexibility and range of motion, and feel for any tenderness or bony abnormalities. Depending on the results of this physical examination, foot X-rays may be recommended.
X-rays are always done in a young child with rigid flatfeet, and in an adult with acquired flatfeet due to trauma.
Although infants usually are born with flexible flatfeet, most develop normal arches sometime between age 7 and 10. In the 15% to 20% of children whose flatfeet last into adulthood, the condition often is inherited and lifelong. However, it may not cause symptoms.
A rigid flatfoot is a long-term condition, unless it is corrected with surgery or other therapy.