Foot and ankle problems are not limited to adults. Children can experience various foot and ankle issues as they grow. It is important to know when to seek the expert advice of one of our doctors so your child can avoid lower extremity problems in the future. Here are some of the more common issues we encounter with children.
Flat feet and fallen arches
Some children are born with flat feet. In some of these children, a more normal arch appears as they grow. Unfortunately, there are many painful conditions related to flat feet such as achilles tendonitis and problems with the plantar fascia. If your child has flat feet and has foot, leg or lower back pain they should be evaluated in our office. Many types of flat feet put tremendous excess pressure on the joints of the feet, ankles and legs. This often leads to joint problems later in life.
If your child has pain associated with flat feet, there are many simple, effective treatment options available. These include changes in shoe type, stretching exercises and custom and non-custom shoe inserts.
Plantar warts are a form of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Plantar means the bottom of the foot. The skin on the bottom of the foot is quite thick making warts that occur there more challenging to treat compared to warts on other parts of the body. The wart virus can enter the foot through tiny cuts or cracks in the skin. The Human Papilloma Virus thrives in warm and moist environments such as bathroom floors, pools and other swimming areas. Plantar warts are very contagious and can easily spread to other areas of the feet and to other family members.
Plantar warts are often mistaken for corns or calluses and can be distinguished by the “cauliflower” like texture of the wart, tiny black dots (capillary clots within the tissue) and bleeding after removing a callus that might be covering the wart. Because plantar warts are so deep in the tissue, treatments such as freezing and over the counter acids are usually ineffective. More successful treatments performed by the doctors at Indy Podiatry include blistering agents, stronger topical acids, prescription strength creams and injections to stimulate your child’s natural immune response.
Ingrown toenails are a common problem for children. As children grow, there is often a mismatch in the size of the nail bed and the overlying nail. This causes the nail to push into the skin on the sides of the nail leading to pain and possibly infection. Other causes of ingrown nails in children include shoes that are too tight and cutting a nail too close to the skin.
Sometimes an ingrown toenail is chronic in nature. Over time, the nail edge gradually turns down. Eventually the nail edge digs into the skin and causes soreness or pain to develop. In these cases infection is usually not present. With an acute ingrown nail, the adjacent skin becomes infected. This is accompanied by redness, pain and mild swelling. Drainage is often present.
If your child has an ingrown toenail, have them soak once or twice daily in epsom salt water and apply a topical antibiotic ointment. Give us a call at Indy Podiatry so one of our doctors can decide if the ingrowing nail edge needs to be removed.
The heel is a frequent area of pain in children. One of the more common causes of heel pain is related to inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. This often occurs when children are growing rapidly. Although it can happen in many bones, growth plate pain and inflammation is often seen in the heel. This growth plate inflammation is known as Sever’s Disease. Even though this condition is temporary and does not cause long-term effects, the pain often interferes with a child’s ability to be fully active and to participate in sports. Symptoms can usually be controlled or eliminated with stretching exercises, heel lifts or custom shoe inserts. Sometimes a period of rest from sports or even brief immobilization in a walking boot is needed to help calm down the pain.
Outward and inward pointing toes
When your child first begins walking, you may notice that their toes either face in (in-toeing) or out (out-toeing). In most cases, these conditions resolve over time without treatment. However, some underling problems that cause in-toeing or out-toeing require treatment. Corrective shoes, splints, or night braces may need to be prescribed depending on the severity of the condition. If you notice in-toeing or out-toeing in your child, please call our office so we can help find the underlying cause and decide if treatment is needed.
Choosing the proper shoe
Many foot problems can be avoided or better managed by making sure you are choosing the right shoes for your child. Proper foot care is never at the forefront of your child’s mind, as they often just want the newest and coolest pair of shoes or shoes that feature their favorite characters. However, it’s important that you help them choose shoes that are supportive, well-constructed and appropriate for any sports or activities your child participates in.
If you have an infant, they don’t need shoes until they are walking outdoors. Because children are always growing, it’s important to check their shoe fit regularly. A growing child could need new shoes three or four times in one year.
We can help
We understand how important the health of your child is. The doctors at Indy Podiatry have the knowledge, training and experience to take care of any foot or ankle problems your child may encounter. If your child is experiencing any type of foot or ankle problem please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today by calling (317) 573-4250.