Many foot conditions that adults are treated for in podiatry, their children will frequently have as well. This is because most of children will inherit their parents’ foot type. So if a parent has a problem with flatfeet, bunions, heel pain, or crooked toes, the child will frequently develop these problems later in life if preventive measures are not taken.
Many of the issues that adults have with their feet or ankles originate from childhood problems that were never addressed at an early stage. With the advent of greater understanding of foot development, podiatrists are able to treat children with issues that they have so they will not develop into adult deformities and pain.
Some physical features that parents should be aware of when watching their child's development are that they learn to crawl by 3 to 5 months, that they rollover or play by 6 months, that they are creeping by 7 to 9 months, and finally walking between 9 and 16 months. Some other foot facts are that the average length of the foot at birth is 3 to 4 inches. Foot growth in general is complete at 14 years of age in females and 16 years in males. So once a child attains that age, they should not need to buy any bigger shoes.
Some of the most common podopediatric issues are pes planus (flat feet), rotational abnormalities (intoe type walk), digital deformities (curly or crooked toes), dermatologic disorders (tinea pedis, verruca, and ingrown nails), and lastly growth related disorders or apophysitis (such as Sever’s heel).
Fractures are common in children as well. Foot fractures are caused by trauma, falls, or repeated stress injuries. The most common type of fracture is a Greenstick Fracture, which is an incomplete fracture. One must always keep in mind that fractures in children are very different from adult fractures because a child’s bones are still growing, and not only can there be a fracture to a specific bone, but also the growth plate. There is more caution that must be taken when a child fractures a bone because it may affect or hinder that child in his or her growth.
If there is a fracture and it is confirmed by a doctor with either x-ray, MRI, CT, proper treatments can include but are not limited to splints, casting, braces, pain medication and also surgery.
Several common symptoms for any type of foot fracture may include but not limited to pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. Be sure to seek medical attention for any suspected foot fracture. If you think you have a fracture in your foot or ankle.
A child that presents with an intoeing walk or “Pigeon toe” often has problems walking and is prone to tripping and falling as the feet get in the way. There are several reasons why feet and turn in. An inward position or twist of the upper or lower leg bones is frequently the cause. Sometimes the foot itself can have a deformity where the front of the foot is turned inward in relation to the heel and back portion of the foot. These problems have different treatments so it is important to have a child evaluated to see how best to proceed with intervention. Children will often outgrow the problem, but it can take a long time. So it is important to treat and protect the foot as the child grows to prevent the foot from breaking down as it is growing and maturing. This is accomplished by either special foot supports (Orthotics), certain types of shoes, or at times braces.
It is normal for a very young child to have a foot that appears flat due to the large fat pad present at birth. Also it is normal for the foot to have a flattening of the arch due to an outward position of the heel (heel valgus) when a child first starts to walk. However, every year the child grows the heel should gradually come more inward up to the age of 6 years old. If it is not straight and lined up with the lower leg at this age then a flatfoot or Pes Planus is present and needs to be addressed.
Monitor Your Child's Foot Health During Physical Activities
Since today's young people are involved in so many activities, it is important to make sure that your child is in tiptop shape for all activities to perform well- and to avoid injuries. So it's important to pay special attention to your child's feet which are the body's foundation and must handle extreme stresses.
Youth athlete's participating in basketball,track,soccer and gymnastics are susceptible to heel pain commonly caused by inflammation of the heel's growth plate, or Sever's Disease. This condition occurs from overuse in children ages 8-14.
Symptoms may appear in one or both feet include:
- Pain at the bottom or back of the heel
- Difficulty jumping or running
- Walking on the toes
- Pain when squeezing the heel
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, call us for a complete evaluation. Treatment options include medications, shoe insets or orthotics, and physical therapy.
Common Dance Injuries
Young dancers are athletes as well as artist. Ballet and other dance disciplines place a lot of stress on growing bodies.
Every dance movement requires extraordinary balance, flexibilty, endurance and strength. Technical movements require the body to take positions that put significant stress on muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments.
Because of these stressors, a dancer's feet and ankles are susceptible to injury. Inflamed tendons or tendonitis in foot and ankle joints can result from excessive repetitive movements. Stress fractures are common as well as ankle sprains particularly for ballet dancers "en pointe". Other injuries include bunions and hallux rigidus or stiff big toe.
Make sure that your young dancer does not over-train and that he or she progresses sequentially as skill and maturity allow.
Choosing the Right Shoes For Your Children
Choosing the right shoes for your children can be challenging due to them constantly growing. It is always important to note that new shoes every 4-6 months may be necessary. Shoes should always have a good, supportive heel with a good fastening system in order for the child's foot to not slip while walking. The shoes should also allow for room for the toes, a good rule to follow is that the big toe should be atleast one half thumb away from the tip of the shoes. Children also tend to perspire often, that is way it is a good idea to get materials that "breathe" easier such as leather. Most importantly, it is extremely important to see if the child's foot fits in the shoe. They should be present when you buy them. It is always a good idea to get them fitted with a Brannock's device before purchase.
Watch for Ankle Sprains in Young Basketball Players
Whether playing a pick-up basketball game or competitively, ankle sprains are common and occur most often when the child lands on another player's foot. The result is pain with swelling and/or bruising, with an unstable feeling to the ankle.
Use the R.I.C.E method to treat sprains:
- Rest the injuried area
- Apply Ice 20 minutes every two hours
- Use a Compression wrap to reduce swelling
- Elevate the injured area to a level that is above the heart.
Ankle sprains can be associated with more serious injuries such as tendonitis, fractures and chronic ankle instability
Excessive basketball training and overuse can lead to heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures and Sever's Disease. Contact Dr. Bruce Theall at Gentle Touch Foot Care at 973-673-FOOT (3668) to schedule an appointment for a complete evaluation.