Flat Feet In Children: Diagnosis and Treatments

Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376580/#:~:text=In%20a%20significantly%20larger%20series,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

Flat Feet In Children
Image Credit: Medical News Today 

“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.” – Ann Wigmore

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

While the majority of us take our feet for granted because they operate normally, there are a small select few who suffer from the childhood ailment known as severe flat feet. The human foot looks simple from the surface, but with a combination of 33 joints, 26 bones and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments holding it together, one can’t help but marvel at this natural creation. All the different aspects of the feet work together to provide the appropriate strength, as well as the relevant resistance that keeps the joint flexible during physical activity. 

While adult flat feet onset is induced by various causes, there are many babies who are born with flat feet. Over time either via intervention or via natural changes during growth and development, the posture gradually changes.   Babies are often born with a soft pad on their feet, and over time the arch develops. Additional alignment conditions that are witnessed by orthopaedic surgeons in children and young babies is the fact that feet can also turn out due to malalignment induced by flat feet. 

If you’re a parent, and your child has flat feet, do not worry. With time and sometimes treatment, the position can be changed. In this article an overview of general non-surgical treatments that you can use in the early stages of detection can be outlined. Natural methods work wonders, but if necessary, consult your orthopaedic surgeon for a detailed consultation on minimally invasive surgeries or brace based techniques that can help your children have their alignment restored. Depending on the root cause, the treatment can be found and applied. 

Your orthopaedic surgeon may utilize diagnostic tools such as MRI scans and X-ray to conduct a detailed analysis of the internals of your child’s feet, and based on the findings, the path forward can be determined. As a start, here are some of the common symptoms that have been associated with flat feet in children: 

  1. Pain is usually an initial symptom. Due to the fact that the joint is under severe compressive pressure, the ligaments start to strain and the root cause is experienced as a pain in the feet by the patient. 
  2. The feet will malalign and tilt outwards due to the fact that the joint is weakening. 
  3. Pain during physical activities. The feet will be a sensitive area, and your child may not be as eager as some of the other children to participate in sports that involve excessive running. They would prefer the quietude to the aftermath of having swollen ankles once they link the activity to their pain.

As a parent, it will be important for you to observe your children’s reaction to sporting activity. Physical activity will be important to their growth and development, and withdrawal is a sign of an internal problem.

Feet Exercises as Natural Treatments 

In the early stages of flat feet, natural remedies are recommended. There are a variety of non-surgical methods that exist in the field of orthopaedics. Explore the options with your consultant and see if they can help with the restoration of the health of your child’s feet. Include in your regimen as much physical therapy and shoe modifications as possible. A suitable assessment will determine the methods that will work best for your child’s condition. Along with a physical therapist exercises such as heel cord stretching, golf ball rolls, and a host of other exercises designed to restore the arch are also helpful. Additionally, if you have your child involved in an activity such as dance or gymnastics which causes a repeated exercising of the feet via pointing and flexing, over time the feet will heal themselves.

Reference Articles: 

Paediatric Flatfoot: https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/pediatric-flatfoot

Flat Feet: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/168608.php

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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