No matter how long you live, feet never stop growing and changing—and they need the health, strength and durability necessary to carry you through all those decades. Ensuring that children get proper attention for any foot concerns in the earliest years of life will help set them down the right path for a lifetime of healthy, happy, independent activity. On the flipside, genetic or chronic conditions that aren’t treated when a child is young can go on to have lasting consequences.
Although you’re likely already taking your child to a few different specialists for regular checkups—pediatrician, dentist, optometrist or ophthalmologist, etc.—you should always keep a close eye on the way your child is walking, standing, and moving about, and bring any concerns to a foot specialist (podiatrist).
This is especially true under either of the following conditions:
- You observe (or your child informs you about) any signs of foot pain. Foot and ankle pain is not normal and should always prompt a visit to a specialist if it lasts more than a day or two. This is as true for a 4-year-old as it is for a 40-year-old. Hopefully your child (if old enough) will tell you if and when they hurt, but sometimes you’ll have to infer it based on what you see. Signs might include limping, hobbling, shying away from play or sports, even frequent requests to be carried. Because podiatrists work exclusively with conditions of the feet and ankle, they are the best choice to diagnose and treat any painful foot problems.
- Something looks strange about the shape of your child’s feet, or the way they move. A few important caveats here. First, there’s a reason they call them toddlers—kids may learn to walk at a young age, but their gait won’t look like an adult’s until much later. Second, some foot deformities or gait abnormalities in young kids will self-correct in time. That said, it’s much better to be safe than sorry if you have any concerns. Flat feet, toes that point in or out, bowlegs, knock-kneed or pigeon-toed walking, etc. are all examples of abnormalities that merit a closer look. Sometimes the best option is simply to continue close observation, but if there are any treatable causes (like a neurological condition or bone fusion) that can be identified, it’s best to deal with them sooner rather than later.
At Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic, Dr. Timothy Dailey and the whole team are delighted to provide effective foot and ankle care for patients of all ages, and to treat your family like our own. To schedule an appointment, fill out our contact form online or give us a call!