Based solely on the title alone, the millions of teenagers who read this blog on a regular basis (just go with it…) are probably nodding their heads vigorously.
Well, hold on a second, kiddos: This post doesn’t have anything to do with the “fact” you have “the meanest parents ever.”
Our focus today is on inherited foot problems.
Why is it important? — Knowing a thing or two about this could potentially keep your children from suffering later in life.
What do we mean by foot issues that are inherited? — We’ll talk about that later throughout this post, but it would probably be helpful to know a bit about inherited foot problems, right?
Obviously, there are conditions and injuries that can develop from everyday life. For example, an acute injury would be a fractured metatarsal if you drop a bowling ball on your foot. At other times, however, problems come down to a matter of losing the genetic lottery. Genetics are funny. There are times when genetics DO play a predictable, profound role. We can say this because it’s something we see when it comes to foot structure and biomechanics.
Since there is such a strong genetic component related to biomechanics/foot development—and especially regarding foot abnormalities—we love when grandparents bring their grandchildren in for appointments.
Sure, we can start to form a decent idea as to what we might see in a child’s foot future based on their parents’ feet, but grandparents provide an even more accurate picture.
Why is that the case? — Because they’ve been using their feet for an additional 2-4 decades, and that means we can see into the future as if we had a crystal ball.
What kinds of future problems do we see?
This isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination, but here are some highlights of problems that tend to be genetic in nature:
This condition is often noted for the enlarged, bony protrusion jutting out along the inner edge of the foot, right where the big toe connects to the foot. In fact, that protrusion is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint and its unusual positioning means the big toe is starting to angle inwards. Continued pressure on the area can drive the MTP joint further out of place, thereby causing pain and discomfort. Bunions typically develop after the 4th decade of life but when they develop in a child they are advanced. Link to the bunion service area
Arches are one of those things you might not think about, but they perform a very important function. In this case, that function is to make sure the tremendous forces from walking and running are properly distributed across the foot. These forces the culprit that leads to most foot deformities and tendon problems. So what do you look for? Take a look at my video. Link to the pronation video
This is something I look for in the parents or Grandparents. No matter if we’re talking about hammertoes, mallet toes, or claw toes, these are conditions that are progressive in nature—which means they will continue to worsen over time when left unaddressed.
Soft tissue overuse
This is typically found as general “achiness” and fatigue. Your child is the first to stop playing in a group of peers or asks to be picked up and carried with long walking activity.
What does pronation look like?
Each of these issues can be significant in their own right, but we need to single out collapsed arches for a rather important reason: Overpronation leads to collapsed arches, which will lead to an array of issues.
Two specific conditions that can develop in response to abnormal foot biomechanics — like overpronation — are plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendonitis. Even though both are reasons you will likely want to bring your child in for professional care, here’s the key distinction between the two:
Anyhow, plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendonitis cause foot and ankle pain of varying degrees, so you would likely prefer that your child doesn’t have to deal with them in the first place. That shines a bright light on why it matters to know about foot issues older relatives have had:
What can you do now to spare kids a lot of pain later?
There are a couple of big considerations here, and they’re both related to the fact children’s feet have a significant degree of flexibility until they reach physical maturity:
Very young children don’t always complain much (about foot pain, at least…). It’s difficult to know when something’s not right if a child isn’t sharing problems with you, and because you don’t know anything’s wrong, we can’t do anything to help.
Children’s feet are pliable and can be molded like modeling clay. When given the opportunity, we have options for helping to change structural problems.
If you’ve been in to see us in the past, you might have heard this before, but it holds true and bears repeating:
We have two basic approaches when it comes to controlling structural problems:
- Correction is internal, which of course is a matter of surgical intervention. Now, this isn’t something we are likely to do when a child’s foot is still growing and developing (except possibly for extreme situations), but surgery may become necessary at some point… Or the foot reaches skeletal maturity and the bones will no longer change to external influence. In that case, we are usually talking about orthotic therapy.
- Protection is controlling the pronation which is done externally with an Orthotic. As the foot grows it has the ability to change to the position it is placed in.
(And, no, we DEFINITELY don’t mean the over the counter inserts/ “orthotics” you can get at the Not Good Foot Store!)
Orthotic therapy is our preferred option for a simple reason—it works.
We know this because we do extensive testing before prescribing these medical devices. Of course, orthotics are like glasses—they only actually work when they’re being used. A pair of orthotics sitting on the closet floor is about as useful as a pair of glasses sitting on a table.
The good news is that most children use their orthotics as prescribed—which is actually quite easy in that you just slip them into shoes—because their painful symptoms are being relieved, and it’s only natural that children want to wear them.
To sum this up, early intervention can help your child avoid a lot of pain from foot problems—both now and in the future.
One of the key ways to recognize if they are at risk is by taking a look at your own feet, and those of your parents. When you do, if you see there are issues like bunions, hammertoes, and collapsed arches, bring your son or daughter in to see us.
If you’d like more information about foot conditions—inherited or otherwise—or need to request an appointment (for any family member), you can reach us by calling (317) 545-0505.