Examining kids’ feet and providing gentle, comprehensive care to keep them healthy and active is an important part of what we do. Kids don’t always experience much pain from foot conditions—and even if they do, they might not feel like telling you—but misaligned feet and other problems can cause them to withdraw from, or avoid active play and healthy exercise.
Furthermore, many foot disorders that may emerge later in life (bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, gait problems, etc.) and secondary complications that can arise (including knee, hip, and back pain) from flawed foot mechanics that are inherited. Diagnosis and treatment early in life can reduce or prevent future problems.
Our Pediatric Care Philosophy
The main components of our pediatric care philosophy include:
- Providing gentle techniques that are designed to keep your child as active and comfortable as possible, with an eye toward offering permanent cures and preventions rather than temporary symptom relief.
- Taking the time to fully explain and educate caregivers on their child’s condition. We will always patiently listen and discuss all options, with you—the parent—having the final say.
- Maintaining communication with your child’s general pediatrician, informing him or her of problems and treatment results so that they stay updated and remain involved in care.
Recognizing Child Foot Issues
Ideally, your child will tell you if he or she is having difficulty. Unfortunately, children are not always forthcoming, and in many cases, withdraw from activity (even favorite sports) long before significant discomfort sets in. That means you need to watch carefully for signs something may be amiss – picking weeds while the soccer scrum moves down the field, frequent requests to be carried, and withdrawal from active play are all potential signs something is wrong. Leg cramps at night are another indication, since this happens when muscles are working harder than they are supposed to (on account of biomechanical abnormalities).
Child Foot Development Problems
When we consider child foot development, there are several activities people think of as “normal” or even “good” that really aren’t as great as they seem.
It can be a source of parental pride when a child starts walking at an early age. The problem with this is that bones are really soft at this early age. A very young child might not weigh a lot compared to an adult, but their weight is substantial in proportion to what their bones can handle. Premature weight bearing on bones that are soft can deform their shape that will remain through adulthood.
In a similar spirit, the “bouncy” jumper seats—where a child is suspended in a harness and can jump up and down—also lead to excessive force being placed on bones that are not able to handle the pressure. This can be worse than early walking, since the amount of force when contacting the ground is greater (because of gravity) than during a step.
One more potential source of concern when it comes to young kids and mobility are “baby first” walkers. These convenient wonders of child sitting also force early weight bearing when the immature bones are not ready. PLUS this is the #1 reason for CT scans in kids because of the ease in which a child can take a tumble down stairs when scooting around. These devices were banned in Canada in 2004 for this reason, and we support that choice.
One of the key issues when it comes to children’s foot care is flatfoot. Up until the age of 13 for girls and 14 for boys, the bones in the foot are still developing and can potentially be corrected with custom orthotic devices. Naturally, earlier is better in this instance. Treating a child at the age of 3 gives us almost a decade to correct the feet. Just as the bones can be changed to a poor position by early walking they can be changed for the good with a controlling device while growing.
Some parents worry that they will spend money on orthotics, and then their children won’t want to wear them. The truth of the matter is that a pair of orthotics crafted for your child’s unique feet should feel better and relieve pain so your child will want to wear them. (Additionally, we may be able to save you some money by using semi-custom orthotics, which can help and do not cost as much as completely customized orthotics.)
When we are using orthotics to treat your child’s flatfoot condition, it is important to bring your son or daughter into our office about every 6 months. The reason for this is simply because children’s feet grow at a rapid rate. We want to make sure that the orthotics work with the feet the way they are now, not the way they were! Control is lost if the foot grows too much.
Once again, it is important to emphasize the point that earlier treatment is best. As soon as you are aware of a flatfoot condition, contact our office and request an appointment.
Plantar Warts and Children Feet
Plantar warts are another common condition for children. Actually, about 90% of cases of warts happen to patients between the ages of 8-21. They are attributed to a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV). There are over 100 different strains of this virus, with only a couple of them actually causing warts to grow.
In spite of common perception, these cannot actually be caught from someone else. Instead, it really comes down to how capable your immune system is at fighting the offensive virus.
If your child has a plantar wart, it can be the source of pain and discomfort. The “kind of” good news about plantar warts is that can go away on their own. Now, the reason it’s only “kind of” good news is it can take up to a couple of years for that to happen. Of course, you can bring your child in to our office and we’ll be glad to treat it (and this won’t take a couple of years!).
You can find over-the-counter wart removal kits at the store, but there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. These kits have questionable effectiveness to begin with. On top of that, plantar warts are frequently buried underneath callused skin. You may be tempted to perform some “home surgery” to expose the viral growth, but this is a terrible idea. It can be painful for your child and increase his or her risk for a more serious infection. There are more "home remedies" than you can count. You are welcome to try these… but remember to call when they do not work.
Request an Appointment Today!
Let Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, DPM and his team of professionals provide the foot care your child needs in a welcoming, compassionate, and supportive environment. You can request an appointment online, or give us a call at 317-545-0505.