Flat feet in children can affect the entire body stance

Article

19. 04. 2018

One of the most common orthopedic defects in children is the issue of flat feet. Children may be prone to flat feet from birth. However, in most cases, it is an acquired defect. For the correct functioning of the feet, the arches of the foot need to be developed well. Our interview with orthopedist MUDr. Rastislav Hromádka, Ph.D. will uncover the methods of treating flat feet and will identify what factors carry the play the biggest role in this defect.

How are flat feet diagnosed in children?

Usually, children are sent away by pediatricians to examinations in orthopedic outpatient practices to confirm the diagnosis of flat feet. Children may already suffer from the defects from birth. However it should be noted that children have a “fat pillow” on the sole of their foot until the age of about two to three. Some confuse this with flat feet. Parents often arrive with such children requesting insoles for them. This is usually premature and we always try to calm them down and explain that is perfectly natural and normal.

How are flat feet treated?

If the child was born with a defect, the problem has to be treated right from birth. If the defect appears later when the child begins to walk, it is possible to solve the issue and choose the right course of treatment. Generally speaking, flat feet are treated by using insoles and by exercising.

There are varying opinions on orthopedic insoles – some experts recommend them, others do not…

Yes, there are varying opinions. More so than the insoles, exercise plays the most important role, primarily between the age of five and ten. As far as inlays are concerned, the foot can change each year as the child grows and the deformity progresses. Parents should therefore exercise with their children based on the recommendations provided as well as do sports. In addition, for the correct development of the foot, muscles and ligaments on the foot, i.e. those on its sole or the forefoot area are also affected by calf muscles. Therefore, most of the exercises prescribed strengthen calf muscles and those of the foot itself.

Surely, it is also crucial to pay attention to the right footwear for children…

Yes, that is true. Right from childhood, it is important to choose footwear with soft soles so that children’s feet are subjected to as many impulses from the surface as possible. When the footwear is hard, there are fewer impulses and the foot does not develop as well.

What is the goal of the treatment?

What is most important for us is that the foot becomes stable and pain-free at the end stage of development, even if with a slight deformity. This result is more desirable than an ideal shape that is not capable of enduring maximum strain.  It is not effective to force the foot to have the correct shape at the end stage of development. The foot is soft and has a nice shape, but it hurts under strain.

What can flat feet affect in the body as a whole?

It can be said that flat feet affect the whole movement apparatus, but this all depends on the type of deformity. This concerns the most common deformities associated with children suffering from a mildly lowered plantar vault. If a more distinct deformity is diagnosed, then it should be fixed by surgery within the span of eight to eleven months of the child’s age. There are also congenital deformities which are necessary to treat from birth. However, this is not the classic case of flat foot that we come across at our outpatient department.

Further, there are certain theories that indicate that flat feet have an effect on the stature of the human body and its way of movement, especially lower extremities under strain. It can therefore be said that flat feet can impact the movement of knee and hip joints, the position of the pelvis and by extension also the spine. It is therefore important that the person with a foot deformity exercises. If needed, the patient can also use insoles to ensure that the deformity does not affect the rest of the body.

What means of prevention are available for children with healthy feet?

First of all, sufficient physical activity is crucial. We often recommend walking barefoot on a safe terrain such as grass, sand or the home environment excluding any overly hard surfaces. As mentioned earlier, it is important to have as many surface impulses as possible while walking under strain.  Finally, it is also fundamental to cultivate a positive attitude towards physical activities in children, so that they exercise at their own will without any excessive parental supervision.  

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