Young children, due to their incredible growth rate and the complexity of the human foot, are particularly susceptible to foot problems and deformities that can cause intense pain and development issues without early correction.
Depending on severity, pediatric foot problems can be corrected either through physical therapy exercises or surgery. The podiatrists and surgeons of AFACC only suggest surgery when completely necessary, and work first to find noninvasive correction methods.
To learn what options are best for you and your child, find the AFACC podiatry clinic nearest you or fill out the appointment form to the left. For more information on Children’s foot problems, symptoms, pain relief tips and treatment options, read below.
Causes & Symptoms of Children’s Foot Issues
The human foot – one of the most complicated parts of the body – has 26 bones, including an intricate system of ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Because the feet of young children are soft and pliable, abnormal body forces can cause deformities and painful symptoms that can often be corrected with early detection.
Problems noticed at birth will not always disappear by themselves. You should not wait until the child begins walking to take care of a problem you’ve noticed earlier. It is best to take action when the child is a toddler to ensure better responsiveness to conservative treatment options.
Remember that lack of complaint by a youngster is not a reliable sign of normal foot health – the bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.
Watch for the issues below to ensure your child’s foot development is where it should be.
- Toe Walking – it’s common for children to walk on tip-toes, but consistently doing so is abnormal
- In-Toeing – occurs when one or both feet point toward the other due to a rotation in the foot, leg, thigh or hip
- Metatarsus Adductus (MTA) – bending of the foot inward at the instep resembling the letter “C”
- Fungus & Infection – walking barefoot exposes children’s feet to infection through accidental cuts, sprains or fractures requiring extensive treatment
Diagnosing Your Baby’s Foot Development
Your baby’s feet grow so rapidly during the first year, it’s generally considered to be the most critical stage of the foot’s development. Because your baby is not yet walking, symptoms of early issues can be more difficult to spot.
Here are a few suggestions to help ensure normal development:
- Look carefully at your baby’s feet. If you notice something that does not look normal to you, contact an APMA podiatric physician. Many deformities will not correct themselves left untreated.
- Keep your baby’s feet unrestricted. No shoes or booties are necessary for infants. These can restrict movement and can inhibit toes and feet from normal development.
- Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables the baby to kick and perform other related motions which prepare the feet for weight bearing.
- Change the baby’s position several times a day. Lying too long in one spot can put excessive strain on the feet and legs. Be sure to limit how much time your baby spends standing in an activity center to no more than 15 minutes at a time.
Babies First Shoes
It’s not advised to force a child to walk. When physically and mentally ready, the child will walk on their own. Comparisons with other children are misleading, since the age for independent walking ranges from 10 months to 18 months.
When a baby first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors. As a toddler, walking barefoot allows the youngster’s foot to grow normally and to develop its muscular and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. Of course, when walking outside or on rough surfaces, babies’ feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.
Since not all children are quick to tell their parents when they are experiencing foot pain, parents should pay attention to unspoken signs such as a child’s limping, tripping, taking their shoes off frequently or unevenly worn footwear. The feet of young children may be unstable which can make walking difficult or uncomfortable. A thorough examination by an APMA podiatric physician may detect an underlying defect or condition which may require immediate treatment or consultation with another specialist.
For more information about children’s feet or to have possible pediatric foot issues assessed, contact us today to schedule an appointment at the AFACC clinic nearest you.