Baby & Children’s Feet: Pediatric Podiatry & Foot Care

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Foot problems in children are very common and are some of the most typical problems podiatrists handle (referred to as podopediatrics). The combination of rapid growth and the complexity of the foot create a perfect storm – frequently causing ailments and abnormalities.

Often times it’s thought that a child will outgrow their foot issues, but this isn’t always the case. If your child is facing foot pain or seems to have any foot abnormalities, schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists for an exam today! This could save your child from further pain and future foot and ankle complications.

Causes

Children are susceptible to most of the same foot issues adults are: ankle sprains, heel pain, infections, etc. However, these issues aren’t always as recognizable in children and can even occur at a higher rate due to their active and rambunctious behavior.

One of the most common causes of foot problems in children is the hyper flexibility of their feet. This allows for uncommon pressures, caused by tripping, poorly fitting shoes, etc. to have a much greater impact on their bones, tendons, muscles, nerves and ligaments.

Symptoms & Identification

Detecting a foot issue in your child isn’t always easy. You may notice a foot abnormality, but other less noticeable signs of a foot issue are:

  • Limping
  • Complaining of aches & pains in the foot & leg
  • Shoes causing pain
  • Child no longer keeping up with their friends
  • Child seems to be losing his or her balance more than usual

Some common issues to watch for are:

  • Toe Walking – it’s common for children to walk on tip-toes, but consistently doing so is abnormal
  • In-Toeing – 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 resembling the letter “C”
  • Fungus & Infection – when walking barefoot children often receive accidental cuts & abrasions leading to fungus & infection

Baby Foot Development

Prevention

A baby’s feet are highly susceptible to injury due to their overall weakness and rapid growth. However, there are definite ways to help ensure normal development:

  • Check for foot abnormalities –If abnormalities are found, bring them to a podiatrist for treatment immediately
  • Keep your baby’s feet unrestricted – No shoes or booties are necessary for infants. These can restrict movement and inhibit toes or feet from normal development.
  • Provide opportunities for exercising the feet – Lying uncovered enables, the baby to kick & 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 & legs.
  • Limit the time your baby spends standing – Babies should spend no more than 15 minutes standing at a time.

First Shoes

When a child begins to walk, which is expected between 10 and 18 months, shoes aren’t necessary indoors. Walking barefoot actually allows a child’s foot to grow normally and to develop its muscularity 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 shoes that are:

  • lightweight
  • flexible
  • made of natural materials.

Treatment & Care

Treatments for children and infants can vary from rest to surgery. At Advanced Foot & Ankle we always look to conservative treatment options first – especially with children.

Often times, when caught in the early stages, treating a child or infant’s foot ailments require simple bracing, an exercise regimen to build strength in the foot, proper fitting footwear, and rest.

If your child seems to be suffering from pain in their foot or a foot abnormality, schedule an appointment at one of our four Middle Tennessee locations today! Our podiatric specialists may detect an underlying defect or condition which could help relieve current pain and protect against the ailment worsening.

 

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