The Ultimate Guide to Foot Problems in Kids
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Ah kids. They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and despite the occasional temper tantrum we love them. But, like the rest of us, sometimes they suffer from foot problems. Understanding kids’ feet can be difficult since they grow so quickly. Often problems resolve themselves as the muscles, bones, and tendons grow. But even when they do, short-term pain is never a good thing, especially for an active kid who just wants to run and play. And when those problems don’t fix themselves, some excellent shoes, close observation, and crack team diagnostics can help get your little slugger back in the game. Here are some common children’s foot disorders along with ideas for treatments and prevention. You should always be sure to visit your doctor before treating anything yourself, but this is especially important for treating children. Inhibiting natural growth can cause more problems than it fixes so interventions should be carefully considered by a professional.
Sometimes being a kid is its own kind of risk factor. Young feet are strong, pliable, and for the most part, less likely to get injured than those of their adult counterparts. Except when growth plates are involved. There’s one growth plate in particular that tends to be troublesome in the young: the growth plate in the heel. As a child’s foot bones grow faster than their muscles and tendons, tension and tightness put stress on this growth plate, resulting in heel pain. While Sever’s disease is most common in soccer or basketball players, any active kid can get it. Usually, athletic shoes with good arch support and heel cushions coupled with stretching, resting, and icing will be treatment enough. But, if pain persists, an x-ray is in order. Sometimes heel fractures masquerade as Sever’s so it’s important to pay close attention.
Flat feet are common in children and often will resolve in time, as the foot grows. However, if your child is complaining of pain, flat feet may be the problem. If the flat feet don’t get less flat over time, they may cause other longer lasting foot problems as the child’s other muscles, tendons, and bones attempt to compensate for the lack of an arch. Using arch supports can help the foot develop properly but should be used only under a podiatrist’s supervision (The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).
In-Toeing and Out-Toeing
Many parents are concerned with their child’s gait, since children often tend to angle their toes strangely. But don’t despair: most children do some toe angling when they’re young! If you’re worried, consider subtle correction with insoles. As I mentioned above, too much correction can harm the child’s feet so be sure to consult with a professional.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.