We performed a prospective study to determine whether flexible flatfoot in children can be influenced by treatment. One hundred and twenty-nine children who had been referred by pediatricians, and for whom the radiographic findings met the criteria for flatfoot, were randomly assigned to one of four groups: Group I, controls; Group II, treatment with corrective orthopaedic shoes; Group III, treatment with a Helfet heel-cup; or Group IV, treatment with a custom-molded plastic insert. All of the patients in Groups II, III, and IV had a minimum of three years of treatment, and ninety-eight patients whose compliance with the protocol was documented completed the study. Analysis of radiographs before treatment and at the most recent follow-up demonstrated a significant improvement in all groups (p less than 0.01), including the controls, and no significant difference between the controls and the treated patients (p greater than 0.4). We concluded that wearing corrective shoes or inserts for three years does not influence the course of flexible flatfoot in children.

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