Falling flat? Misconceptions about flat feet

Written by: Mr Thomas Crompton
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Having flat feet might sound like a difficult condition to have but it’s incredibly common and causes little to no problems, especially in children.


Consultant orthopaedic surgeon and paediatric specialist, Mr Thomas Crompton, addresses whether flat feet are a problem to be concerned about or a human trait we should embrace.


Child wearing short blue trousers in bare feet, standing on stone


Do flat feet require treatment?

Flat feet in children almost never require any treatment. All children under five or certainly all children under three will have flat feet. And we tend to develop an arch in the Western world where we're wearing footwear between the ages of about three and five if we develop one at all.



Does having flat feet cause medical problems?

About 15 to 20 per cent of adults will have flat feet and the majority of humans with flat feet will have no problems from them. I have some great examples of people with flat feet. Cristiano Ronaldo and Usain Bolt both have the flattest feet you've ever seen and are elite athletes with no problems with their feet.



Is having flat feet an old-fashioned diagnosis?

It's quite old fashioned and probably a generational thing to think of flat feet as a diagnosis. In the majority of children, there is no reason for any treatment or any concern regarding their flat feet.



Are there any reasons why flat feet could lead to medical issues?

There are very few conditions; there's probably about one per cent of children with flat feet who have a problem that's causing them.


And that's why it's sometimes reasonable, if your child is having pain from their flat feet to either see an experienced children's physiotherapist or children's orthopaedic surgeon to rule out any problems with their feet. However, even all the children that see me in clinic, it is very rare that they would need any surgical intervention or even any orthotics.



If you need reassurance or have any queries about flat feet in your child or related issues, visit Mr Crompton for expert advice. Visit his Top Doctors profile to book an appointment, here.

By Mr Thomas Crompton
Paediatric orthopaedics

Mr Thomas Crompton is a leading consultant orthopaedic surgeon in London, Brighton and Horley who specialises in paediatric orthopaedic surgery. His areas of expertise includes treating conditions such as trauma, hip dysplasia, flat feet and neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy.

Mr Crompton qualified from Barts and the London Medical School and undertook his registrar orthopaedic training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital. He underwent his specialist children’s orthopaedic fellowship at Westmead Children’s hospital in Sydney and the Royal London Hospital.

Mr Crompton is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Society for Children’s Orthopaedic Surgery.

He is also a senior office in the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron with the Royal Airforce. The squadron provides trained medical personnel for operations requiring aeromedical evacuation in times of conflict or crisis.

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