How Worried Should I Be About My Child’s Feet?
There are many different ways we show our loved ones how we care on Valentine’s Day. For example, maybe you will take your spouse or significant other out to a place like Antnucci’s or Piccolino Ristorante for a lovely dinner, and then to McKinney Theatre or Camino Real Playhouse to catch a performance. Depending on your style, you might give flowers, candy, or other little romantic gifts. Of course, you’d likely do something a little different for your kids. Maybe take them out to the movies or pick up some of their favorite treats for them. Now, if you’re a parent, you certainly don’t only show them how much you care on February 14th! That said, children aren’t always appreciative—not while they’re young, at least—of everything parents do for them. There are many different ways this is the case, but it’s especially true as you monitor and tend to their health issues and concerns. As with humans of all ages, there are foot and ankle problems and abnormalities that might be present or can develop during childhood years. It’s important to know a bit about them — particularly if you want to know when it’s time to really be concerned or not! Some of these common issues for children’s feet you should know include: Pediatric flatfoot. Having no arch, or a very limited one, in the foot may contribute to a variety of issues later in life, but all children start out without an arch until they begin developing around 3 years of age. After that time, it is possible to begin noticing one of two conditions: flexible or rigid flatfoot. Flexible flatfoot can be seen when the child has all of his or her bodyweight on the feet, but an arch appears when the foot is relaxed. This condition is often outgrown before adolescence and often not worth worrying about. A rigid flatfoot, on the other hand, may cause pain. In this instance, the arches will generally stay flat and we could recommend orthotic therapy. Intoeing. Commonly known as “pigeon-toed,” intoeing is a condition where your child’s feet point inwards, instead of straight ahead. There are three different variations of intoeing, each stemming from a different part of the foot or leg. Metatarsus adductus is when the feet themselves are bent inwards. Tibial torsion stems from the tibia bone in the lower leg twisting inward. Femoral anteversion is an inward turning of the thighbone. All of these conditions will often correct themselves in time. It’s worth noting that there’s a related condition known as out-toeing. As you might expect, the feet point outwards (instead of inwards) when this is present. Like with intoeing, most cases resolve on their own over time, but it is worth monitoring either condition to make sure your child’s limbs develop in an appropriate manner. Growing pains. Sever’s disease is a common condition for growing children, especially for those who are active and participate in sports. This is a painful condition that originates in the heel’s growth plate. It occurs during early adolescence and is only temporary in nature, but we can offer treatment to help. Another disease, albeit a rare one, that is connected to growth is Freiberg’s disease. This condition leads to a vague pain in the joint of the second toe and stems from disturbance in the growth plate of the metatarsal bone. Freiberg’s is more likely to happen in adolescent girls or individuals (of either gender) who have a second toe that is longer than the first one. Ingrown toenails. An ingrown toenail digs into the soft skin that surrounds a nail, either with the front corner corner or on the side. This can happen due to physical trauma (if your child drops something heavy on his or her foot, for example), tight footwear, or improper nail trimming. With regards to nail trimming, a toenail can become ingrown due to either being rounded off or clipped too short. As such, an important part of child foot care—one you can perform at home—is to make sure your child’s nails are trimmed appropriately (straight across and roughly even with the edge of their respective toes). More often, though, ingrown toenails are caused by an inherited nail structure. This happens when a toenail is unusually curved. Later in life, we may recommend permanently removing the nail to prevent an ingrown condition from continually developing. One thing you might want to consider to hopefully reduce your need to worry about your child’s feet is the importance of proper footwear. Shoes that are ill-fitting can potentially cause (or contribute to) problems like blisters, ingrown toenails, bunions, heel pain, and other ailments. When purchasing shoes for your child, take special care to ensure they offer adequate support and comfortable fit. Doing so means less worry for you – and less risk of problems for them! When it comes to children’s foot care, early action goes a long way towards heading off bigger problems later down the road. If you observe anything out of the ordinary with your child’s feet or ankles—or especially if he or she suffers an injury or complains about pain—then it’s time to bring your son or daughter in to see our experts at Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists. For more information on child foot care, normal foot development, or to request an appointment with our Ladera Ranch office, call (949) 364-9255 (WALK). If you’d prefer, you can also use our online form to contact us right now.