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Pediatric Foot Health: Foot and Ankle Care for Children

Baby's First Steps

Just like the rest of a person, feet have to grow into their full strength and ability. The first few years of development are particularly crucial, but all throughout childhood and adolescence foot health matters. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we understand how important your children are to you, and how you want to provide them with the very best. Great pediatric foot care is a way of helping your child develop healthy feet for life.

The Growth Cycle of Children’s Feet

Feet still have a lot of growing to do when babies are born. New feet are sensitive, soft, and pliable, without formed arches. A lot of growth happens in the first year of life, which makes taking care of any problems early even more important—so the feet will develop correctly. Using loose-fitting socks or booties to avoid pressure and squeezing on the toes will help prevent deformities and other development problems. At this stage of life, common problems tend to be easy to treat conservatively, but could have life-long consequences if ignored.

Feet develop a lot of strength and their arches when children start learning to walk. Your child’s gait will be awkward and ungainly, but will get more stable with time and practice. Still, it will be important to watch for gait abnormalities (like toe walking or intoeing) that could signal trouble. Also, allowing your child to walk barefoot and develop foot muscles is especially important during this time. Even when your child does graduate to shoes, stick to styles that are made of lightweight and flexible material, permit air circulation, and have plenty of heel padding.

School-aged children still have developing feet. In fact, their feet can grow and change quite rapidly, necessitating new shoes fairly often. Injuries from sports and overuse may become more common. Since their growing feet may not be stable, muscle issues and gait abnormalities could develop as well. Protecting feet and addressing potential problems early remains vital to help lower limbs grow strong into adulthood.

Common Foot Problems in Children

Because children’s feet are still growing, the issues that face them are not always the same as those that face adults. Here are some common problems for children that need prompt care:

  • Clubfoot – This is a common congenital deformity that causes one or both feet to be twisted inward. This needs early correction to ensure the feet grow and function normally.
  • Intoeing – Some children may have toes that point inward at birth, or that appear to do so when your child learns to walk. This may or may not be a problem for your child’s gait and comfort.
  • Ingrown nails – Pressure on children’s toes can cause the nails to curl and grow inward painfully.
  • Plantar warts – Warts are highly contagious skin viruses that can easily pass to children. On the soles they can make walking uncomfortable.
  • Flat feet – Some children do not develop full arches and instead have flat feet. When this causes pain, it becomes a problem.
  • Heel pain – Heel pain can happen to anyone. There are a few different reasons a child or teen may have developed heel pain, and all need care to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Sever’s disease – This is actually a problem with inflammation in the heel’s growth plate. This can make your child limp when he or she is active.
  •  Freiberg’s disease – This is an unusual condition involving the breakdown of the tissue in the second metatarsal’s “head” area, in the ball of the foot. This causes increasing pain in that spot.
  • Bone tumors – These odd growths create lumps on children’s feet that may make wearing shoes difficult. They can either be benign or cancerous, but in either case, they need to be monitored.
  • Child bunions – Bunions aren’t just for adults. Children with faulty biomechanics can develop this painful deformity, particularly if they wear shoes that do not fit and support the feet well.

Call Today and Invest in Your Child’s Health

Healthy feet provide a solid foundation for a lifetime. Now is the time to invest in your son or daughter’s foot care, at the crucial period in his or her life when the body is still growing and developing. Entrust the care of your children’s feet to our experts today. Make an appointment with Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists by calling (512) 328-8900. You can also request more information through our online forms.