Podiatry for children
A child’s foot is not just a small-scale model of an adult foot and will continue to develop as the child grows. This is an important time for correction of any developmental and structural abnormalities as, in many cases, foot problems in adult life can often be prevented or reduced through early intervention in childhood. Podiatrists diagnose and treat children’s foot problems by careful examination of the foot, and lower limbs where required.
Common children’s foot problems include:
Flat feet are when the arches on the inside of the feet have collapsed and flattened. For the first two years of a childs life, the arch will seem to be absent giving the appearance of a flat foot. This is typically normal in a young child due to the weak muscle tone in the foot, a fat padding that acts as an internal arch support, and loose ankle ligaments that allows the foot to lean or “collapse’ inwards. As the child learns to walk, the ligaments and muscles will strengthen and the fat pads in the arch area will become smaller because the muscle and ligaments start to support the feet more. By the age of five, the arch should have formed and the foot appear relatively normal.
Feet that turn in / “Pigeon Toed”
Many toddlers walk with either one or both feet rotating inwards, classically a term many podiatrists refer to as “Pigeon Toed”. Generally, this is merely a sign of developing posture and balance, and should resolve by itself between the ages of three and five years. However, if the in-toeing is severe and seems to be causing your child to regularly trip and fall, or isn’t improving by the time your child is 18 to 24 months of age, they could be required to see a Podiatrist for further assessment. Unnecessary in-toeing may be caused by a number of underlying difficulties, such as hip joint problems.
Feet that turn outRarely, toddlers walk with their feet turned out. This tends to be more common in children who were born prematurely. In most cases, out-toeing resolves by itself as posture and balance matures, although an assessment by a Podiatrist is recommended.
Growing pains/ nocturnal leg aches
Some children wake during the night with aching legs. These aches are generally associated with ‘growing pains’. Bones grow very quickly, especially during a growth spurt. If the muscles of the legs that control the motion and function of the feet are required to work harder due to structural anomaly of the lower limbs, those leg muscles will become quickly fatigued, causing a child to experience pain. Even simple devices to support the feet can provide much symptomatic relief.Other common concerns for parents include:
- Abnormally shaped toes
- Bunions or other deformities
- Walking pains
Children and footwear
A child learning to walk receives vital sensory information from the soles of their feet. Shoes with hard and inflexible soles, can make walking more challenging. A toddler doesn’t need shoes until they have been walking for a couple of months when shoes become necessary primarily to protect their feet from potential dangers. It is important to allow your child to go barefoot regularly to help them develop posture, balance and co-ordination. Children’s feet grow quickly and their shoe size may need updating every few months. Shoes that are too tight can alter a child’s walking and cause problems, such as pressure points, ingrown toenails and in some cases clawed toes.
It is common for parents to consult with a foot specialist when they become concerned with their children’s feet. Glengala Health Podiatrist’s are experienced, professional and ready to provide your children with the highest quality of care.