Children as young as newborns can see a podiatrist for foot and ankle issues. It may be difficult for parents to tell the difference between normal growing pains and a foot problem that could be a more concerning medical condition. This is why it is important to talk to an experienced pediatric podiatrist. They can properly diagnose the problem and offer advice on the appropriate steps to take.
Like other health issues, it’s important to take a proactive, preventative approach to foot care. If your child is complaining of foot pain or you’ve noticed a difference in their behavior, you should consider making an appointment with a podiatrist. Foot pain should be professionally assessed and treated, and for most children, remedies are gentle and mild.
Reasons to See a Pediatric Podiatrist
As a parent, you may wonder if you have reason to bring your child to a podiatrist. However, there are many medical conditions specific to children that should be addressed by a podiatrist, and pediatric podiatrists have specialized training in diagnosing and treating these foot conditions.
Types of Children’s Foot Problems
- Newborn foot problems. Some foot issues may be present at the time of birth, and pediatric podiatrists can treat many newborn foot deformities. Because babies grow very quickly and are very flexible, they usually respond well to treatment. Some common conditions in newborns include clubfoot, inward-pointing toes (metatarsus adductus), and curly toes. These problems can often be corrected before the child starts walking. Treatment may require medical imaging, as well as special casts and corrective footwear.
- Signs of pain. Infants and toddlers can’t tell you in words that they’re in pain. Even so, parents may recognize that their child is feeling pain in their feet and legs. Even young children with limited vocabularies may tell their parents they have an “owie” on their toes. If your child complains of soreness or discomfort, it is important to see a podiatrist for a full diagnosis.
- Sports injuries. As kids get older, they may start to participate in sports. They may be part of an organized soccer or little league baseball team or play sports for fun. In all cases, they risk suffering foot and ankle sports injuries, just like teens and adults. They may suffer breaks, strains, and sprains. They may bruise or twist their ankles. To ensure they heal correctly, it is important to seek the help of a skilled pediatric podiatrist.
- Problems walking. If your child stumbles or falls frequently or you notice a change in the way they walk, you should see a podiatrist. There are other signs that your child may be suffering a foot or ankle problem:
- o You see a change in gait or behavior
- o Your child seems more tired or avoids certain activities
- o Your child shows signs of bowed legs, pigeon-toeing, ingrown toenails, or foot fungus
- Prior foot problems or injuries. Your family may have a history of foot problems, or your child may have already had a foot injury. A podiatrist can help with your child’s preexisting or recurring foot problems. With the right preventative measures, the doctors at Shenandoah Podiatry can help your child grow and develop in a healthy way.
Why Early Treatment Is Vital
Treating foot problems as early as possible is especially important in children. An issue that isn’t identified and treated promptly can lead to more serious problems later in life. These problems can profoundly affect healthy development. One example is flat feet in children. Babies are born with flat feet. Most children have fully-formed arches around the age of six. At first, flat feet may not seem like much of a concern. But, left untreated, it can lead to gait disorders and impact the alignment of bones throughout the body. This can lead to bad posture, difficulty moving, and chronic discomfort.
What to Expect: Your Child’s Visit With a Podiatrist
You can reassure your little ones that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Initial appointments focus on diagnosing the foot problem, and this diagnosis may involve a physical exam of the foot, observing the child’s gait, and/or medical imaging. From there, the podiatrist will work with you to develop an effective treatment plan to reduce pain and encourage healthy development. Treatment may be as simple as rest, ice, compressions, and elevation, or the podiatrist may recommend medications or physical exercises. Don’t settle for quick-fix remedies that don’t address the root of the problem.
Your child’s podiatrist can suggest further steps to prevent future problems. For example, they can recommend the types of shoes your child should wear. By taking a holistic view and understanding the kinds of activities your child is involved in, our podiatrists can help your youngster enjoy pain-free activity.