Diagnosis of flexible flatfoot in children: a systematic clinical approach

Orthopedics. 2011 Jan 1;34(2):94. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20101221-04.


The goal of this study was to provide measures of symptoms and signs in a consecutive case series of children with flexible flatfoot based on a systematic clinical approach. Fifty-three children (age range, 10-14 years) previously diagnosed with flexible flatfoot were evaluated by a structured interview and clinical assessment. Most patients had foot symptoms (65.3% of feet) and functional limitation (68.3%). Symptoms included a sensation of discomfort (11.3%), such as early tiredness or difficulties during prolonged standing or walking, and pain (54%), mostly located in the plantar aspect of the foot (28.7%) and the medial hindfoot (18.8%). Body mass index was positively correlated to the presence of symptoms and their severity. Even if an enlarged footprint was present in 93.1% of feet, objective assessment evidenced the presence of heel valgus only in 83% of feet. Forefoot adduction was present in 22% of feet. Jack's test provided varus correction in only 54% of feet. Internal knee rotation was the most common associated disalignment, present in 43.6% of limbs. Symptoms were significantly correlated to knee alignment, and functional limitation was correlated to heel valgus. Standing balance on 1 leg was significantly correlated to footprint grading severity. A systematic clinical approach to assess children with flexible flatfoot should always be recommended for the correct diagnosis and the associated treatment management based on symptoms, functional limitation, and foot dysfunction. Functional assessment by specific tests should be included in the examination, as evidence exists that morphology and function are not necessarily related.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arthrometry, Articular / methods*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Flatfoot / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity