Pediatric Foot Care
When it comes to children’s foot care, we find that some issues are more common than others. By understanding the common child foot injuries and conditions, you can easily recognize when your son or daughter needs medical care.
Hopefully, your children can stay safe, healthy, and pain-free, but please know that the pediatric foot care experts at our Portsmouth and Nashua locations provide effective, gentle treatments for our young patients.
Pediatric Flat Foot
Foot arches will typically begin to develop once a child is around the age of 3. At this point, there are still many children who appear to have a flatfoot condition when they stand or walk. This may be an indication of a common condition known as flexible flatfoot. In this case, the arches are observable when the child sits with legs dangling (so there is no weight on the feet). When he or she stands normally, the arches will disappear.
Foot arch development continues until approximately the age of 8. At this point, arches are stronger and it is less likely that you should expect to see a flatfoot condition. That being said, this is not a particularly rare condition.
Fortunately, flexible flatfoot does not cause pain for most younger children who have the condition, but symptoms may arise when feet are still flat heading into (and beyond) the adolescent years. A symptom of particular concern is chronic pain experienced along the bottom of the feet, as well as complaints of lower leg fatigue. Often children with flatfeet will say “my legs are tired” after walking short distances. If your son or daughter has this problem, contact our practice and schedule an appointment with either of our offices so we can provide the appropriate treatment he or she needs.
Treatment for pediatric flatfoot—and even for adult cases—is usually conservative in nature. A pair of custom orthotics prescribed by any of our pediatric foot care doctors will often correct any issues that can accompany flatfoot, especially overpronation.
Other Common Child Foot Injuries
Whereas pediatric flatfoot is a particularly common condition we treat at Northeast Foot and Ankle, there are an array of other conditions we see on a fairly frequent basis. These include:
- Plantar warts. Caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), plantar warts on the bottom of feet can lead to pain and discomfort. If your child has a wart on his or her foot, request an appointment so one of our doctors can evaluate your child and formulate the best course of action.
- Sports injuries. Sports are rather popular for countless kids and adolescents in the New Hampshire Seacoast communities (and anywhere!). There is a wide array of benefits that comes from participating in sports, but any physical activity always comes with a certain degree of injury risk. We treat many young patients for injuries sustained during athletic practices or competition. A majority of cases do not require surgery and can be effectively cared for with conservative treatment methods
- Sever’s disease. Contrary to the name, this is not actually a disease. Instead it is a variance in the rates of growth between the Achilles tendon and heel bone (calcaneus) that can cause heel pain for adolescents. The problem occurs when the heel bone grows too quickly, thereby causing the Achilles to tug on it. This is the leading cause of heel pain for children, but there is good news in the fact there are generally no long-term problems. Treatment is centered on relieving existing symptoms.
Potential Treatment Options
When is comes to pediatric foot care, we certainly hope to treat any patient successfully with nonsurgical methods, but this is especially true for children. The good news is that many cases do not require surgical intervention. Some treatment options we might use for your son or daughter include:
- Medication. Always make sure to check with our office for dosage recommendations, but nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be helpful for relieving pain and inflammation.
- RICE therapy. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are beneficial in relieving painful symptoms, lowering levels of inflammation, and helping the body perform its natural healing processes.
- Orthotic devices. Customized orthotics might be recommended as a highly-effective treatment tool to address a wide range of medical issues. When preparing custom orthotics, we take the time to ensure they will work in a specific manner to best accommodate your child’s unique feet.
- Surgery. As previously noted, we take every measure possible to treat a young patient’s condition with nonsurgical care, but there are rare cases when surgery is recommended. If this is the case for your child, you can take comfort in knowing that your son or daughter is in the hands of skilled, expert foot surgeon.
Child Foot and Ankle Injury Prevention Tips
We love knowing we helped a child overcome pain and difficulty with conservative treatment, but even better is when an issue doesn’t happen in the first place. There are several measures that can be used to lower the risk of foot and ankle problems for children, including:
- Shoes need to fit correctly and be appropriate for any activity. If you need help with making the right shoe choices for your child, we can help!
- Keeping an eye on your child’s weight so there is less stress on his or her feet and ankles. A great way to do this is to encourage participation in sports or other physical activities.
- A regular stretching routine—particularly one that targets the calf muscles and Achilles tendons—is not only a good habit to start at a young age, it can also help reduce pain caused by Sever’s disease.
If your child has foot or ankle pain, contact us at the earliest opportunity. The sooner we can treat a problem, the better. We are the trusted source for patients from York and Dover, all the way to Newbury. Call us at (603) 431-6070 if you have any questions regarding child foot care or need to request an appointment with either our Portsmouth or Nashua offices for your child.
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