Pediatric or children’s foot problems are among some of the most common podiatric problems our podiatrists treat and our podiatrists are experts in pediatric foot problems. The NWI Times newspaper published Dr. Nirenberg’s recommendations on how to choose the best shoes for your child’s feet (click here).
Some parents (and even some pediatric specialists) believe children will outgrow a foot problem, and though this may happen, you should not take a chance with your child. If you suspect a pediatric foot problem, have us or a competent podiatrist check your child’s feet.
Common Pediatric Children’s Foot Problems
Pediatric foot problems are referred to by podiatrists as podopediatrics. Foot problems in your child may appear at birth, shortly thereafter, or once your child is walking. Walking abnormally is often the first sign that something is wrong with your child’s foot or their feet.
Adolescents and teenage children may develop foot or ankle problems and these should not be ignored. It is important to watch for any foot deformities or limping in your adolescent or teenage child, and see our podiatrists or an expert in pediatric podiatry if you notice any foot issues.
Pediatric Heel Pain
Heel pain in a child is a common problem. One of the first signs you may notice is your child limping. Pediatric heel pain is differs from adult heel pain in that the child’s foot is still growing, and as a result, more flexible.
Your child’s heel pain may be due to an abnormality of the heel bone’s growth area. In these cases, the growth area of the heel bone becomes inflamed, and pain worsens when your child tries to walk or participate in sports. Other heel pain causes include a fracture, bone tumor, bursitis or infection.
If you notice your child limping or complaining of heel or arch pain, you should have the child’s evaluated by one of our podiatrists as soon as possible.
In-toeing or Out-toeing in Children
In-toeing is often referred to as walking pigeon-toed. Instead of the foot pointed straight-ahead, the foot turns inward. Sometimes in-toeing occurs with only one foot, or it may affect both feet. The child may limp, stumble or even trip and fall when running or walking. In-toeing may be due to a structural issue with the foot itself or related to the leg or hips.
Out-toeing is the reverse of in-toeing, where the child’s foot points outward when they are walking. Again, this problem can affect one or both feet, and it can cause the child to stumble or even fall when running or walking.
Both in-toeing and out-toeing are considered structural problems and when these problems are caught early they are easy to correct. Most parents are able to spot in-toeing or out-toeing in their child, usually shortly after the child begin to walk. If you suspect in-toeing or out-toeing, you should bring your child in for an evaluation with one of our podiatrists.
Toe-Walking in Children
Some toddlers or even older children may walk more on their toes or the front of the their foot, rather than putting their heel down on the ground. The child who toe-walks may appear to “bounce” as they walk.
This problem may be due to bone abnormality in the child’s foot or a neurologic issue, though more often is due to the tendon at the back of the leg, called the Achilles tendon, being too short.
Most of the time, a tight Achilles tendon can be treated conservatively, though in severe cases our podiatrists may do a small procedure to help lengthen the tendon.
Bunions in Children
Some people mistakenly believe bunions is an “old person’s” problem. The truth is many children develop bunions. Often a child develops a bunion secondary to another, more significant, deformity of the foot.
Most of the time, bunions in children can be treated without any type of surgery. It is important for parents to bring in their child as soon as they see a bunion beginning to form. In some cases, surgery may be necessary and our podiatrists may do a small out-patient surgery to correct the child’s bunion.
Flatfeet in Children
Flatfeet is called pes planus, and it is common foot problem our podiatrists treat. In basic terms, a flatfoot is a foot that has a very low arch or no height to the arch. A child with a flatfoot may or may not have pain.
Flatfeet are related to the development of all kinds of foot, ankle and leg pain and problems. Your child may have difficulty walking or may complain of “tired” feet.
Fortunately, treating flatfeet is easy. Often we make a simple arch support that molds to your child’s foot, called an orthotic. Orthotics are custom-made to your child’s foot and slip in your child’s shoes. Generally, the younger your child is when he or she begins wearing orthotics the better.
Ingrown Toe Nails in Children
Ingrown toe nails are common in people of all ages and children are no exception. Ingrown toe nails can be painful and cause your child to limp or avoid wearing their shoes. Our podiatrists treat ingrown toe nails just about every day. In fact, a painful ingrown toe nail is one of the most common problems our podiatrists treat.
Alleviating an ingrown toe nail is easy and fast when it is addressed promptly. It is important that you do not ignore an ingrown toe nail in your child’s foot as it can become infected and lead to other complications.
Plantar warts show up on the bottom of a child (or adult’s) foot, though warts can occur anywhere on the foot. Dr. Nirenberg has even had children where warts were under toe nails.
Warts are due to a virus and they tend to affect children’s feet more than adults. Plantar warts are easy to catch and they can spread rapidly—they are highly contagious. Worse, plantar warts can be irritating or even painful.
Parents who notice a plantar wart on their child’s foot should see our podiatrists immediately, before the wart spreads. Most of the treatments for plantar warts are easy and painless. In more advanced or resistant cases, our podiatrists may use a laser to destroy the wart or other methods.