To Treat, or Not to Treat?
What would encourage you to take your child to a podiatrist? If they complain of pain? Yes, probably then, but surprisingly one of the most common reasons parents bring their children for an examination has nothing to do with how the child’s foot feels, but rather with how it looks. Some research estimates that as many as 9 in 10 visits occur because of pediatric flatfoot. You observe that your child’s foot hasn’t formed an arch and wonder if it needs treatment.
No Pain, No Gain?
With flat feet in children, there may be little advantage to your child from a visit to a podiatrist if there is no pain or loss of function. That’s because arch-building in kids’ feet is a long process that doesn’t begin until age 2 or 3 and isn’t complete until 8 to 10 years of age. Granted, it may be worthwhile to you as a parent, because our expert foot doctors can look at the foot and tell you it is perfectly normal and you don’t need to worry.
If your child does have pain, though, or if the arch is stiff, rigid, flat, and can’t be manipulated easily, there is some cause for concern. The same is true if your child seems “lazy,” doesn’t like to run and play, prefers being carried, or can’t keep up with their playmates. Your child may not say “my foot hurts,” but these subtle hints can tell us that there is some malfunction in the foot that is keeping them back. In that case, your child could gain a lot from early treatment.
Treat a Problem or Prevent It?
There are at least two schools of thought—and quite a controversy—about treatment for pediatric flatfoot. On the one hand are those who say as long as there are no symptoms and the child is functioning normally, there is no need for shoe inserts, custom orthotics, stretching programs, or other treatment.
Others claim that a good clinician can observe problems with your child’s foot structure and determine how the foot posture may be affecting their other joints (knees, hips, lower back) before there are any symptoms. This group also claims that treating such abnormalities when they are young—when the foot bones and tissues are still growing and forming—will prevent chronic or more severe problems when they are older.
There is also a movement for limiting shoe wear in children in the early years, so that their feet can grow and form properly unhampered by artificial pressures or forces. Some claim that this is the most natural and effective way for children to form a normal, well-functioning arch.
Gain from Our Experience
At Aadvanced Foot Care Associates our staff of expert podiatrists has over 100 years of combined foot care experience, and we keep up on the latest research and findings and use advanced treatment technologies that become available.
We can help you find answers for your child’s flat feet, and we encourage you to call one of our three New York offices—Rego Park (718) 896-4433, Plainview (516) 822-9595, or Flushing (718) 969-2266—and set up a time to come in. You can also schedule your appointment through our website. We will help you navigate the possibilities of treatment vs. non-treatment, and what type may help your child more. We look forward to helping you find what’s best for your little one’s feet.