If there’s one thing to know about children’s feet, it’s that they grow—fast. Your shoe budget will likely attest to this if it has not already done so. As young feet quickly develop, certain issues may arise that require professional care. Sometimes these issues are just a part of growing up and need a watchful eye to make sure they don’t turn into anything worse. Other times, intervention may be needed right away. Either way, the primary goal of children’s foot care is ensuring your daughter or son’s feet transition correctly and comfortably into adulthood.
In general, most common conditions that affect children’s feet will show themselves in the form of pain, an abnormal gait (walking a peculiar way or preferring not to walk), or a change in the appearance of the foot. Here is a short list of problems which parents frequently bring their children in to consult us about:
In most cases, flat feet in childhood does not show any particularly worrying symptoms. The only sign of the condition that might be noticed is how the child’s arch sometimes flattens out while standing or moving. If this is the case, the condition will likely disappear as the child’s feet continue to develop. Only regular monitoring may be recommended to ensure flatfoot doesn’t become rigid and remain with the child through adolescence and adulthood.
In other cases, pediatric condition may cause pain, a change in gait, or inhibit activity. If flatfoot becomes a concern for these or other reasons, treatments including orthotic devices and physical therapy can help.
Affecting older children around 8-14 years of age, Sever’s disease is an inflammation of the growth plate at the back of the heel bone—essentially, “growing pains” in the heel. Children who engage regularly in sports and physical activity are more likely to experience this condition. A professional examination, rest, and conditioning exercises are usually enough for the condition to resolve itself within a few months.
Parents may notice their child’s feet turn inward (“pigeon-toed”) or outward while walking, or that they walk primarily on their toes. This may be accompanied by tripping.
In many cases, these conditions are of little concern. A child will often grow out of them normally as their muscles and coordination further develop. However, these symptoms can also be signs of nerve or muscle conditions and should be monitored.
The above conditions are not the only ones that can be experienced in children’s feet, of course. They can always fall victim to everyday, any-age problems such as plantar warts, ingrown toenails, and trauma, too. Whenever your baby, child, or teen needs expert foot and ankle care, the doctors at California Foot and Ankle Institute are here to provide it. Our goal is to guide growing feet to a happy future, whether it requires immediate treatment or long-term supervision.