Caring for a child’s feet, ankles, and legs is often very different from treating their parents and grandparents.
Not only do their feet grow quickly, but they are still developing internally—bones, for example, remain much softer and flexible than adult bone well into the teen years.
That said, many future foot ailments, injuries, and even deformities emerge in childhood, and it is during these years that they are best addressed. Careful attention and treatment for childhood foot problems can help protect better health and mobility for a lifetime.
Congenital Foot Deformities and Gait Problems
Sometimes, an inherited deformity or misalignment is apparent early in infancy, or after your child begins walking. Common examples include:
- Clubfoot One or both feet appear severely twisted at birth. Clubfoot treatment must begin as soon as possible with stretching and casting to straighten the feet before walking begins. With diligent treatment using the Ponseti method and daily parental care, clubfoot can be fixed non-surgically and without delaying your child’s normal development.
- In-toeing and out-toeing One or more bones in the feet may be rotated, causing the feet to point inward or outward when standing and walking. Often this self-corrects over time, but that isn’t always the case.
- Flat feet Arches don’t always fully develop in most children until they are a few years old, so their feet may appear flat (especially when bearing weight). Severe flat feet that cause pain or persist beyond age 5 or 6 are more likely to require treatment.
- Other gait abnormalities Although young children tend to toddle and wobble a bit, unusual looking gait patterns (limping, high stepping, walking on tiptoes, etc.) may indicate a more serious issue.
Illnesses and Infections
Kids’ immune systems are generally underdeveloped in comparison with adults, making them more susceptible to certain common infections. Hormonal changes and, in some cases, lack of attention to personal hygiene can contribute as well. Examples include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Ingrown toenails. In kids, ingrown toenails can be the result of trauma or shoes that are too tight, but sometimes genetics play a role, too.
- Plantar warts
- Excessive sweating
- Foot odor
Accidents and Trauma
Older kids who start to engage in more active play or sports activity are at relatively high risk of sports injuries. We see a lot of junior soccer, football, and basketball players. Runners and dancers, too. Common foot and ankle injuries include:
- Heel pain. In kids this is usually caused by Sever’s disease, an injury to the exposed growth plate of the heel during adolescence, rather than plantar fasciitis.
- Ankle sprains
- Ligament tears
- Broken bones
A Comprehensive Approach to Caring for Kids’ Feet
From congenital deformities to sports injuries to stinky feet, we love caring for all types of pediatric foot and ankle conditions. If your child is demonstrating any signs of pain, discomfort, or unusual gait patterns involving their feet or ankles, please bring them in to see Dr. Cory Pilling and the team at Canyon Foot & Ankle.
We proudly take a family-first approach to patient care, with a focus on providing the as personalized care and individual attention your child needs. We are trained in Ponseti clubfoot casting, and strive to provide effective conservative options (such as bracing and prefabricated orthotics) for gait problems whenever possible.
We’re also happy to advise you on prevention and home care strategies that can help your children maintain healthy feet, from stretching exercises to footwear advice.
In the end, what we’re really about is making sure your children’s feet are happy, healthy, and in great shape for a lifetime of use!
To schedule an appointment with our team, please call your preferred office today: