Can flat foot in children be treated?
- Author Craig Payne
- Published July 6, 2022
- Word count 507
The use of arch supports for the foot of a child that is still growing is quite controversial. Some believe that arch supports should be used to give the foot the best opportunity to properly develop and others believe that the growing foot should not be interfered with and the foot should be left alone to grow and develop naturally. There is no doubt that a flatter foot is very common in children when they begin to walk, the debate is about is if this is something to be concerned about. As the problem is not as common in adults, most of these children do grow out of it. The debate about this can be quite polarizing with those on both sides of it genuinely want to be seen as doing the right thing and helping children.
Those who argue not to treat quite rightly pint put that most young children do grow out of a flat foot. Those who argue to treat point out that not all grow out of it, so there is no harm in treating them all to make sure that they all do grow out of the flat foot. Obviously, we are talking about the flexible flat foot that is not causing any pain. If the flat foot is rigid or is painful, then that is going to need to be treated. This is especially the case if the flat foot is causing functional limitations in the child. An argument could also be made that if the flat foot is particularly flat and if both parents also have problems, then it probably should be treated as there is a high risk that they will not grow out of it and it may become a problem. If the foot is more rigid, they are also probably less likely to grow out of it.
When the decision is made to treat the flat foot problem in the child, then a decision is going to have to be needed as to the best approach. The most typical treatment is to use foot orthotics to correct the arch. These can be the custom-made type that are designed specifically for the foot of that child, or they could be the mass-produced type that are more cost effective. There are certainly exercises that must be prescribed to strengthen the muscles that support the arch of the foot and increase the proprioception stimulation under the foot. There are alternatives to arch support, for example there are some brands of flip flops that have a relatively benign arch support in them that can be useful in the children’s sizes. This includes the Archies brand from Australia. These Archies are very popular in the adults’ sizes and are becoming more well known and used in the kids sizes. If the flat foot is rigid or if the flat foot is very flat and is not responding to foot supports, then there are surgical options that can be considered. They do tend to give a better long-term outcome in these cases.
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