Children’s Foot Care
It is estimated that the average person will walk around 110,000 miles in a lifetime. We think of foot problems developing later down this road, coming from the “wear and tear” we put them through. However, children’s foot care should be a real consideration from those very first steps, or even before.
Being aware of potential problems with your child’s feet and ankles opens the opportunity for earlier treatment, which means they have a higher chance of traveling into adulthood with a strong, healthy foundation. Below are conditions common in children during their growth.
Children’s feet and legs grow quickly, and it often takes time for them to develop and settle into their final adult shapes. During this time, parents might observe abnormalities in foot shape or walking gait. Examples include:
- Pediatric Flatfoot – The arches of a child with pediatric flatfoot will tend to disappear when they stand, but reappear when they sit or rise onto their toes.
- In-toeing and Out-toeing – In these conditions, the feet will point inward or outward, respectively. Tripping may be common.
- Toe-walking – A child will walk on their toes. It is common for children to experiment with this stance when learning to walk, but consistently toe-walking may be reason for concern.
In many cases, a child will grow out of these conditions as they develop. However, they can also be signs of problems that may need corrective assistance. It is always best to consult with a professional if you see any sort of abnormality in walking, and especially if it is causing pain. Changes in development can be monitored over time and treatment provided if necessary.
Heel Pain in Children
Heel pain is another common occurrence in children, especially around the age of 8-14 years. Active children around this time might develop Sever’s disease (aka calcaneal apophysitis), caused by the growth plate along the heel bone being aggravated by tension from the Achilles tendon. This condition is often treated with rest, allowing the growth of the heel bone to adjust.
Plantar fasciitis can also be a source of heel pain in children, and is more present along the bottom of the heel during periods of activity or after a period of rest. An injury to the Achilles tendon is also a possibility.
As heel pain tends to occur in children who are invested in physical activity, it is sometimes possible that a child will try to hide it in fear of having to be sidelined. It is important to look for signs of pain, not push activity levels beyond reasonable limits, and have possible injuries addressed to help prevent more chronic problems down the road.
Other Common Problems
Children by no means are immune from some of the foot problems we face as adults:
- Ingrown Toenails – An ingrown toenail can be painful for a child, and is often caused by tight shoes as small feet quickly outgrow them. Many cases can be treated at home, but recurring cases and those with signs of infection should be seen professionally.
- Plantar Warts – For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, children tend to contract warts more often than adults. Plantar warts (simply, warts on the feet) tend to be harmless but long-lasting. Warts tend to go away on their own after several months or years. Treatment for warts may be recommended if they are causing pain or there is another need for their removal.
- Juvenile Bunions – Although often thought to be solely an adult condition, some children are genetically predisposed to develop bunions earlier in life. Addressing this condition quickly can help prevent it from growing worse into adulthood and avoid the need for surgery later in life.
Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic is committed to treating foot and ankle conditions in all ages and sees pediatric foot care as a means toward preventing worse issues later in life. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (989) 695-6788 if you suspect any problems or simply have questions about your family’s foot health.