The amount of physical development that children go through from the time they are born until they head out for the first day of school is absolutely remarkable. Every child progresses through a series of milestones, ultimately leading up to (relative) independence. There is so much happening with your developing child that it can seem hard to keep up. In spite of everything that is going on, you need to pay attention to their feet and toes, especially since those appendages play such vital roles in learning how to stand and walk. Basic children’s foot care is centered on preventative measures and dealing with issues early so they don’t become major ones down the road.
CHILDREN’S FOOT PROBLEMS
Children can develop foot problems at a very young age. Your child won’t even know what his or her feet are for, but you do know how that story will unfold for them—crawling, standing, and walking—and it is imperative that you identify any issues early. Doing so will give you the best chance at protecting your child by heading off potentially painful, uncomfortable problems before they begin.
Common foot problems that you should watch out for in children include:
IN-TOEING OR OUT-TOEING
There are skeletal and neurological disorders that can cause a child’s toes to turn inward and it is important to determine the root cause of the condition. Various causes of in-toeing and out-toeing include clubfeet, deformities in the foot arch, or even damage to the tibia. When you first notice this condition, gather as much information as you can and make an appointment with our office to find out why it is happening and what can be done about it.
Flat feet is a common ailment that is rarely painful in and of itself. The concern for this particular condition is that it can cause a variety of other issues, including plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, and pain in the ankle, knee, and hip joints. It is important to note that all children have flat feet until around the age of 3, at which point they begin to develop arches.
There are two different types of flat feet—flexible and rigid. Flexible flat feet can be observed when a child stands, but an arch appears once the foot is relaxed. This condition will typically be outgrown in time. Rigid flat feet are basically what they are. Orthotics, like the ones prepared by our practice, are commonly used in children’s foot care for flat feet and can be quite effective.
Some of the foot and ankle issues that we treat are caused by overuse, and Sever’s disease falls into this category. This ailment, caused by the repetitive impact that comes from running and playing sports, is one of the more common conditions that children face. One of the ways to recognize that your child may have Sever’s is that he or she will refrain from participating in favorite activities. If your child complains about pain in the heel that comes from jumping, walking, or running, squeeze the affected heel lightly. When your child says that it hurts, bring him or her into our office. We will assess the situation and provide the necessary treatment so he or she is no longer in pain.
Ingrown toenails develop for a couple of different, unrelated reasons. One that we see frequently is that parents unintentionally make the mistake of rounding off the edges of their child’s toenails when clipping them. The other frequent culprit is shoes that are too tight. When footwear pinches and constricts your child’s toes, the nails do not grow properly. If you observe this condition, especially when there is inflammation and pain, bring him or her in for an appointment with Dr. Lukoff.
WHEN YOUR CHILD NEED’S CARE
As soon as you notice any of these conditions, or anything that is abnormal or painful for your child, contact our office by calling (617) 479-7921 ((617) 479-7921) or scheduling an appointment at Foot Care Specialists, PC online. We will provide an accurate diagnosis and effective children’s foot care at our Quincy, MA office, so contact us today.
Objects that bend to absorb shock can handle more force than something that’s completely stiff. In this way, the arches in your feet act like shock absorbers. Their shape allows them to deal with heavy forces and diffuse pressure. A stiff object simply has to hope it’s stronger than the forces acting on it. If you have flat feet, your arch is too low to be efficient, which could cause pain.
LOW OR FALLEN MIDFOOT
Your midfoot is made up of your tarsal bones. These small bones fit tightly together and meet your long metatarsal bones in your foot’s arch. The arch shape and height is important for your foot to maintain proper alignment and absorb shock efficiently when you take a step. You develop this part of your foot when you begin walking as a toddler. Usually your arch is fully present by school age or younger—however, some people’s arches are flatter than normal. This causes flat feet.
Without a regular arch, you tend to overpronate, or roll your foot too far inward, whenever you take a step. This can strain your ankle and stretch out your plantar fascia, causing aching through the midfoot, heel, and ankle. Usually the symptoms feel worst when you spend a long period of time standing or walking around. However, not everyone with naturally flat feet experiences pain—some have no difficulties.
However, you could develop this condition from a painful injury or another problem that affects the tissues supporting the midfoot. These “fallen arches” are called adult acquired flatfoot deformity. They can appear in just one foot or in both feet at once. Usually, the problem is the result of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, injury to the bones or ligaments in the arch, arthritis in the tarsals, or diabetic foot collapse. As your feet fall inward, the discomfort becomes more pronounced and may make it difficult to participate in high-impact activities.
BOOSTING THE ARCHES
Fortunately, this is easy to treat with conservative therapies. Dr. Marshall L. Lukoff will evaluate your lower limbs to rule out other possible causes for your discomfort. This will also allow our staff to determine if you have a naturally low midfoot or if an outside problem caused your foot to fall. Then, you can begin treatment to support your arches and relieve your pain.
Since most of your discomfort arises because your midfoot is not sufficiently supported, stabilizing your arch is usually the first step. You’ll probably need to change your shoes to wear styles with more support. You may need orthotics to help control your foot motion and distribute your body weight more efficiently through your lower limbs as well. You may also benefit from physical therapy exercises to help strengthen the tissues that naturally support the arch.
If you have an additional condition that caused your midfoot to fall inward, it will need to be addressed to find relief. This could include rest or immobilization to heal damaged tendons, shoes changes to prevent further pain, and ice or compression to eliminate inflammation. In some cases, you may need surgery to repair torn tissues.
Flat feet are a fairly common problem that can get in the way of your ability to enjoy regular activities. They don’t have to control you, though. Adding extra support can boost your arches and prevent pain. If you’re struggling, contact Foot Care Specialists, PC here at Crown Colony Medical Center in Quincy, MA, for an appointment or to receive more information about caring for your lower limbs. Fill out the online contact page or call our offices.