“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well; …and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.” James H. West
Flat feet is a condition indicated by the absence of the arch of the feet. Also known as pes planus, overpronation or pes valgus, the condition is easily identified by the fact that the soles of the feet are touching the floor when they are inspected. In children, the condition is often overcome by physical activity or other alternatives that will be discussed below. When it comes to children, you may consult an orthopaedic surgeon, who specialises in paediatric care. Usually, there are three main types of child acquired flat foot diagnoses:
Flexible flatfoot: According to studies, all children have this condition, which affects both feet. The good news is that there is no treatment needed for this type of flatfoot condition.
Flexible flatfoot coupled with a short Achilles tendon. Unlike flexible flatfoot, the second type is prone to cause both pain and disability.
Rigid flatfoot is a rare condition in children, that usually surfaces if there’s a bone condition known as tarsal coalition present. The resultant outcome is pain and disability.
While the majority of babies are born with flatfoot, most children tend to outgrow the condition. While 80-90% of children have flatfoot, only approximately 20% of adults have flatfoot. With rigid flat foot, there is a concern since no arch is seen during an examination. The arch is an indicator of flexibility, and care must then be taken if none is visible. Pain in the foot, is normally concentrated to specific areas.
How is Child Acquired Flat Foot Diagnosed?
An orthopedic surgeon, via a series of tests, will be able to determine the type of flat foot that your child would have. Via a series of imaging tests, the feet and ankles are assessed. These tests include X-rays, EOS imaging (3D visual), CT scans and MRI images. With the appropriate internal imagery available, if there are pain points on the child’s feet, the root causes of the condition can then be identified with a deeper probe.
How is Child Acquired Flat Foot Treated?
If the condition is painless, normally treatment isn’t administered. If there’s is pain however, there will be a series of treatments that your orthopaedic surgeon will administer. Studies have shown that children develop their arches by the age of 5, so allow time if there is no evidence of pain. As an initial treatment, stretches are often effective in facilitating the improvement of the flexibility of the ankle and the legs. One of the most popular stretches is for the heel cord. The following is the procedure for the heel cord stretch:
Stand in front of a wall, and lean forward with one leg in front and the other behind the leg. Both heels should be on the floor for this exercise.
The back leg should be straightened, with the heel against the floor.
The front leg should be bent, and allowed to hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Ensure that the toes of the back leg are aligned towards the heel of the front foot.
The suggestions for this procedure are a minimum of three times on each leg. If necessary, feel free to do more than the prescribed exercises. With additional treatments such as orthotics and additional foot support, the appropriate natural enhancing treatments can be facilitated by the supports. With your orthopaedic surgeons assistance, the right path for your child can be determined.
Additionally, there are surgical treatments that can facilitate the restoration of flat feet in children. The image below, is the after image of the initial image in this blog article. The child was treated with minimally invasive technology, a day case surgery. The patient presented with severe bilateral flat foot, and had an inability to run or stand for long periods of time. After surgery, the condition was corrected.
Flatfoot in Children: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/bone-joint-muscle-conditions/flatfoot/
Flexible Flat Foot in Children: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/flexible-flatfoot-in-children