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Correct Flat Feet Before Adolescence

Prevent Serious Foot Problems Later in Life

ORLANDO, Feb. 20, 2003 – Often left untreated, flat feet in children can lead to serious foot conditions later in life, but research presented today at the annual meeting of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) showed that surgery performed before adolescence is very successful in permanently correcting the deformity and also achieves high levels of patient satisfaction.

Flat feet are difficult to distinguish in young children until the arch develops between ages six and nine. Some eventually outgrow the condition. Those who don’t frequently complain of calf pain, cramping or fatigue, and parents notice collapsed arches and ankles that turn inward. Left untreated, childhood flatfoot can lead to arthritis and other foot problems as adults. There are several treatment options, including shoe modifications, orthotic inserts, physical therapy, stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medications and surgery. 

A study co-authored by Darryl Haycock, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon based in Lima, Ohio, evaluated 37 pediatric patients for 18 months following surgery to correct flexible flatfoot. The authors assessed structural correction success using x-rays and physical examinations, and also measured patient-satisfaction levels with the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ), a self-administered survey designed for children five years and older. 

“The CHQ offered an in-depth look at physical function and also gauged the patients’ psychological and interpersonal relationships with their parents,” said Haycock. “Our results show that just four months following surgery, these patients were functioning as well as other children regarding physical function, lack of pain and psychological well being,” said Haycock.  He noted that the CHQ findings and the excellent clinical outcomes show that flatfoot surgery is a safe and reliable option for pediatric patients who don’t respond to conservative treatment.

Haycock advises parents to consult a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon if their children persistently complain about leg cramps and pain in the calf, foot or arch, or if they are concerned about flat feet. “It shouldn’t hurt to grow, so if your child has pain, treatment should be initiated,” he said. “Flat feet should be corrected before adolescence to restore normal walking and prevent arthritis and other future complications. Surgical and non-surgical techniques have proven to be very successful in achieving the desired correction in pediatric patients.”

For further information about foot and ankle conditions and to locate a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon in your area, contact ACFAS toll-free at 1-888-THE FEET or at www.acfas.org.

This press release article was provided by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).


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