When it comes to knowing when to bring your child here to see your friendly, neighborhood go-to foot doc, the first thing to keep in mind is that foot and ankle issues are not normal. If there is a problem, it should be treated. Put simply, a child who exhibits either restricted movement or has pain in his or her lower limbs needs pediatric foot care.
Kids rarely complain about pain, so you need to be mindful of other potential signs of an existing issue. A major factor for why more cases of child foot problems aren’t caught is simply the parents are unaware of them or don’t know what to look for.
A fairly common indication happens during youth sports. If you’ve ever seen young kids playing soccer, there’s often a pack of players all around the ball. This pack will continue to chase the ball up and down the field – even if the coach is trying to get some of them to stay on defense or have offensive players spread out the field.
Children who have an existing foot problem get tired more quickly than kids with healthy lower limbs. These young athletes are more likely to stop following the pack, have a seat, and start playing with the grass or any dandelions that have grown on the field.
In addition to getting tired more quickly, you may observe bulging on the inside of the ankle or check for tenderness in the Achilles tendon. A gentle squeeze should not be a source of pain, so it’s an indication of a problem if doing this is painful for your child.
A big reason behind child foot problems tends to be gait problems. Many times, these are hereditary in nature. So you just need to look at your foot structure and gait pattern—along with how your spouse, parents, and in-laws walk—and you can have a rough idea as to whether your children will have issues. A child’s grandparents are especially prophetic in this regard. You can think of them as being a crystal ball showing the future for your son or daughter.
One of the good things about child foot problems is that their bones are almost like Play-Doh until they start completely ossifying by the age of 13 for girls and 14 for boys (at which point the bones are at full maturity). Actually, when children ages 2-4 are x-rayed, it looks like most of their bones are missing, since they are still cartilage and have not ossified. What this means is many children’s foot conditions can be treated with conservative care.
Knowing when to take your child to a podiatrist is important because the majority of health conditions are most effectively treated at earlier stages. Additionally, early treatment is important for preventing long-term damage or issues. Contrary to conventional wisdom, they won’t outgrow certain conditions. Catching and treating problems now will save your child a lot of pain and difficulty over the span of his or her life.
Early treatment, compliance with treatment, and use of orthotic devices are all potential factors in success for child foot care. Naturally, we won’t know what your child’s treatment plan entails until you bring him or her into our Indianapolis office. For more information on pediatric foot services, or to request an appointment for your son or daughter, just give us a call at (317) 545-0505.