Pediatric Podiatry

Some parents believe children will outgrow a foot problem. While this may happen, you should not take a chance with your child’s health. Walking abnormally is often the first sign that something is wrong with your child’s foot or feet.

Children experience some of the same types of foot problems as adults, like bunions, ingrown toe nails, heel pain, and flatfeet. However, there are conditions, like in-toeing, out-toeing, toe-walking, and plantar warts, that are typically addressed when a child is young.

Here are the conditions and problems
that we treat in pediatric podiatry:

Heel pain is a common problem that you will notice if your child starts to limp. Pediatric heel pain differs from adult heel pain because a child’s foot is still growing, and as a result, it is more flexible. Your child’s heel pain may be due to an abnormality of the heel bone’s growth area. In these cases, the growth area of the heel bone becomes inflamed, and pain worsens when your child tries to walk or participate in sports. Heel pain could also be caused by a fracture, bone tumor, bursitis or infection.

In-toeing or Out-toeing are also common problems. In-toeing, commonly known as pigeon toe, is a condition in which the foot turns inward instead of pointing straight ahead. In-toeing can occur with only one foot or it may affect both feet. Your child may limp, stumble, or even trip and fall when running or walking. In-toeing may be due to a structural issue with the foot itself or could be related to a problem with your child’s legs or hips. Out-toeing occurs when a child’s foot points outward when walking. Again, this problem can affect one or both feet, and it may cause the child to stumble or even fall when running or walking. Both in-toeing and out-toeing are structural problems that are easy to correct when they are caught early.

Toe-Walking is seen in toddlers or even older children who walk more on their toes or the front of their feet, rather than putting their heels down on the ground. The child who toe-walks may appear to “bounce” as he or she walks. This problem typically occurs because the tendon at the back of the leg, called the Achilles tendon, is too short. Most of the time, a tight Achilles tendon can be treated conservatively, though in severe cases, a small procedure may be necessary to help lengthen the tendon. In rarer cases, toe-walking could be caused by a bone abnormality in the child’s foot or a neurologic issue.

Bunions are commonly considered to be an older person’s problem. However, often a child develops a bunion that is a secondary issue that occurred due to another, more significant, foot deformity. Most of the time, a child’s bunion can be treated without any type of surgery. In some cases, out-patient surgery may be necessary.

Flatfeet, called pes planus, is another common foot problem. Flatfeet, feet that have a very low arch or no height to the arch, are related to the development of various foot, ankle, and leg pain and problems. A child with a flatfoot may or may not have pain; however, he or she may have difficulty walking or may complain of “tired” feet. This condition is treated by inserting an orthotic, which is a molded arch support, in your child’s shoe. Orthotics are custom-made to your child’s feet and slip in your child’s shoes. Generally, the younger your child is when he or she begins wearing orthotics the better.

Ingrown toe nails are common problems for people of all ages. They can be painful and may cause your child to limp or avoid wearing his or he shoes. Alleviating an ingrown toe nail is easy and fast when it is addressed promptly. It is important that you do not ignore an ingrown toe nail because it can become infected and lead to other complications.

Plantar warts grow on the bottom of the foot. These warts actually develop because of a virus that tends to affect children’s feet more than adult’s feet. Highly contagious plantar warts spread rapidly and they can be irritating or even painful. Most of the treatments for plantar warts are easy and painless. In more advanced or resistant cases, lasers may be used to eliminate the warts.