Common Childhood Foot Problems
As a responsible parent, you should add pediatric foot problems to the long list of things to keep an eye on.
Why? Children are constantly growing and developing, processes which can cause pain and other issues. Secondly, children (particularly those who play sports) are comparatively active, which puts extra stress on their ankles and feet. And since children tend to be resilient, a serious problem might go unnoticed, which could lead to long-term or even permanent health issues.
Following are a list of common childhood foot problems parents should watch out for:
Also known as pes planus, this condition in children differs from adult flatfoot in that it can be caused by developmental changes, versus gradual stretch of tendons and ligaments that support the arch of the foot. Oftentimes, a child will grow out of this. But if there is pain associated, or if one foot is flat and the other has a proper arch, it should be looked at by a podiatrist. A typical treatment may include orthotics.
Often occurring in very active children between the ages of 8 and 14, Sever's Disease manifests as pain at the growth plate near where the Achilles tendon attaches to the back of the heel. This is related to what is commonly called "growing pains," when a bone grows at a faster rate than the surrounding muscle. Pain is typically mild and not an issue. In some cases, where pain is excessive, a podiatrist may offer relief in the form of special inserts or supportive shoes which can reduce stress on the heel bone ... as well as suggest strengthening and stretching exercises.
For the same reasons growth spurts can cause Sever's Disease, tightness in the calf region can also lead to Achilles tendonitis. If you see your child limping or walking on his or her toes, this could be the problem. Rest, ice, elevation and compression can usually alleviate mild symptoms. If more severe pain is present, this is one condition you will want to have a doctor look at, as it could be a tear. Without treatment, Achilles tendonitis could progress into a chronic condition.
A bunion deformity can be just as common in children as adults. Not only painful, these must be treated with an extra degree of seriousness since they can lead to abnormal development of the foot. Mild cases can be addressed with a shoe modification, padding or orthotic. A more serious case can often be treated with a minimally invasive growth plate surgical procedure.
Growth Plate Injury
Foot and ankle injuries are quite common among children who play sports. These must be looked at by a podiatrist to check for damage to a growth plate. Untreated, a growth plate injury could lead to diminished or a complete stop in bone production, leading to a permanent foot deformity.
As with any potential medical condition, your best bet is to seek the care of a qualified doctor. You can trust Sweeney Foot & Ankle Specialists for all your podiatric needs. Give us a call for a comprehensive list of childhood foot problems and suggested treatments.