Pediatric Foot & Ankle Care

As a parent, you are probably used to handling the minor injuries that come with having a kid or two. From cuts and bruises to more serious injuries that require anxious hours in the emergency room, getting hurt is part of the experience of growing up and having fun.

Chronic pain, however, is not something that children should face. Many children and teens experience heel pain and other complaints, but like other injuries, most parents hope it will heal with rest and time. For many children, however, these conditions could worsen without treatment. Fortunately, treatment is available, and can often be quite simple. 

Keeping Kids on the Move

Over time, people have come to picture podiatry as a practice reserved for older adults, when foot and ankle problems plague people of all ages and activity levels. Chronic foot and ankle pain does not discriminate, and young children often find themselves sidelined with pain and discomfort that they cannot explain.

At Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona, our team of foot care professionals are dedicated to helping kids and teens overcome their pain by treating a variety of common problems, including:

 

  • Sports Injuries and Sprains: Children begin sports at a younger age than ever, and occasionally, a sprain comes along with the territory. Improper care and physical therapy after a sprain can lead to long-term complications, so come see us today for the care and attention your child’s injury deserves.
  • Fractures and Repetitive Stress Injuries: Also common in young athletes are fractures and overuse injuries. For children involved in high-impact sports, or those who just enjoy the riskier activities in life, fractures of the foot, toes, and heel can put a serious damper on their fun. Young bones need proper care to heal correctly, and our pediatric foot care professionals can help.
  • Sever’s Disease and Heel Pain: Has your child complained about heel pain? This could be a sign of Sever’s disease, a true “growing pain” of sorts caused by your child’s heel growth plate growing faster than the Achilles tendon. This can cause pain as the tendon and leg muscles strain to accommodate quickly growing bones; simple orthotic inserts and stretching therapy can greatly reduce tightness and pain.
  • Plantar Warts: Plantar warts most commonly appear in children. While not a serious problem, warts can often cause pain when they crop up on weight-bearing parts of the foot and grow inward. Our office offers effective, in-office treatments that can rid your child of warts in a few short weeks.
  • Flat Feet: Most babies and young children have very flat feet, but after the age of seven, the structure of the foot will likely remain the same. Flat feet in children are usually due to the hereditary shape of the foot rather than an injury, but left untreated, may cause lifelong knee, hip, and back problems. We offer custom orthotics that can help your child’s feet develop proper structure by providing needed support.
  • Pediatric Bunions: Kids can get bunions too, and in fact, it’s important to treat them as soon as possible to slow progression. Stretches, orthotics, splints that hold the toe in proper position, and shoes that fit properly are all helpful in managing the condition.

Intoeing and Out-toeing

You may have noticed the inward turn while playing with your infant’s toes, or watching your toddler scurry around. You may have told your kindergartener to keep his or her knees straighter and worried that your child would stay “pigeon-toed” into adulthood. Though it may not look normal, intoeing is common in young children. Fortunately, with a little monitoring, it does not have to become a permanent problem or interference in your child’s life.

The Twisting Problem

Intoeing is a condition where a person’s toes turn inward when standing or walking instead of pointing straight ahead. It is a common problem for infants and young children. It may affect one or both feet, and though it looks uncomfortable, only sometimes does it cause a child to trip or have trouble walking.

There are three main sources of intoeing: tibial torsion, femoral torsion, and metatarsus adductus. Tibial torsion exists when the shin bone, formally known as the tibia, twists inward. This can develop in the womb or as a young child. Femoral torsion is when the thigh bone, the femur, twists inward, pointing the knees toward each other. Metatarsus adductus exists when the bones from the mid-foot forward curve inward, making the foot a half-moon shape. The condition may resemble clubfoot in severe cases.

Growing Helps

Intoeing is a common pediatric problem that frequently self-corrects by age ten, and rarely interferes with the child’s walking or activities. If you notice your child’s feet turning in, however, you should still have the condition evaluated by the team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists to determine the cause and to monitor its development over time. That way, if complications do arise, it can be cared for immediately with a better chance of treatment success.

Each form of this condition tends to be most noticeable at different ages: metatarsus adductus develops primarily in babies; tibial torsion is most visible around age two; and femoral torsion manifests most clearly between ages five to six. These conditions seem to run in families, or even develop as the baby grows during pregnancy. By age ten, the intoeing should have corrected or at least significantly decreased. If you notice your child’s feet still turn in more than normal, or trip him or her up while walking, then surgery may become necessary.

Correction

For both tibial and femoral torsion, most conservative correction does not help the condition. Braces, special shoes, splints, and even exercises have not been shown to improve either problem. Usually the twisting self-corrects as the child’s body grows.

In severe cases of metatarsus adductus in infants—when it has been present for several months with no improvement, the curve is extreme, or the foot is rigid and doesn’t straighten out when you move your baby’s foot—your child might need casting. Unlike the other intoeing conditions, this has been shown to help correct the direction of the foot and prevent it from getting in the way of the child’s walking. Surgery to reset any of the problematic bones usually only happens after age ten and only if the intoeing interferes with normal walking.

Kick Childhood Foot Pain for Good at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona 

Your child should enjoy a life free of foot pain, and our pediatric foot and ankle care professionals are here to help! For injuries or ongoing pain and tenderness, visit our two East Valley locations to learn how we can get your child back to their active, pain-free life! Call us today to schedule an appointment at our Chandler (480) 963-9000 office.