Children’s Foot Care, Screening and Management
A Child’s Feet
The development of the lower limb and feet is a major part of a child’s growing process. During this period, parents are excited to witness their children’s milestone achievements. However, despite meeting certain milestones and developmental needs, many children may carry foot ailments from their childhood or from birth into their teens and adulthood. This can eventually affect their mobility and quality of life. A paediatrician or podiatrist can help to identify any problems in the early stages, and help you understand and monitor your child’s condition better.
Should your child see a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is trained in assessing a child’s lower limb development. Children as early as 12 months old may visit a podiatrist. It is never too early to see a podiatrist as the earlier we identify issues and start treatment, the better the results. If we intend to wait it out and monitor before treatment, we will be able to track the progression and changes in your child’s feet.
Nothing makes us happier than seeing happy, healthy and active children running around our practice!
It is highly recommend that you consult a podiatrist if you spot any of these signs:
- Intoeing or out toeing
- Pain when walking/ tired or sore legs
- Flat feet beyond the age of five years old
- Bunions or other deformities
- Changes in the way your child walks/ exhibits disordered walking or standing behavious (bowed legs, knocked knees, flat feet, toe walking or tiptoeing)
- If your child is not walking by two years of age
Even if your child does not have any of these symptoms, taking him or her to a podiatrist for a quick assessment may be useful in identifying problems you may not even notice. Addressing these can decrease any pain, discomfort and mobility changes your child may eventually experience. Leaving them unresolved could lead to a progressive problem.
Insight to some conditions your child may experience
Also known as, ‘pigeon toe’, the feet curve inwards instead ofpointing straight ahead when walking or running. If your child does display any in-toeing, he or she may outgrow the condition naturally at 2-3 years old. Intoeing may result from other conditions such as tibial torsion, femoral torsion and metatarsus adductus. More severely, these may cause your child to trip and stumble.
Flat feet, also known as “fallen arches” or “pes planus”, occur in approximately 20-30 percent of the population. This is a common problem that may lead to other issues later on in life when left untreated.
In the beginning, all infants’ feet appear flat as the arch has yet to be formed due to low muscle tone and weak ligaments. There is also a fat deposit which can hide the natural curve of the arch area. This fat pad usually disappears when the child is about 2 years old. You should not worry about your child’s flat feet until they are 3 years and older, as almost all children appear to have flat feet until this age.
Toe walking/ Tiptoeing
Toe walking occurs when your child walks without making ground contact with their heels. Often observed when a child starts to walk, toe walking can be a part of a developmental phase and children should outgrow it by the age of three years old.
Children who walk on their toes can develop overly tight muscles at the back of their lower legs, thereby posing an injury risk when any physical exertion is involved.
However, if your child continues to toe walk after the age of three, it is best to consult someone. Like intoeing, to ascertain if a child’s condition is different from the norm, a series of assessments needs to be conducted.
What to expect at the podiatrist with your child?
The podiatrist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your child’s legs and feet to identify the cause or reason to the problem.
Dynamic and static assessments will include:
- Hip examination
- Knee examination
- Ankle and foot examination
- Standing and gait analysis
- Footwear analysis and advice
From the findings, the podiatrist will be able to construct a treatment plan for your child. Treatment may include the application of foot orthoses, footwear changes, or exercises. The need for other specialist care may also be organised, as required.
Consult a podiatrist today if your child exhibits any of these signs:
- Is the shape of your child’s feet different looking?
- Are the arches of the foot not forming after the age of three?
- Does your child walk strangely or fall often?
- Does your child have pain in the feet, legs or hips?
- Do you have a family history of feet problems?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, you might want to get their feet checked at one of our clinics. It is important to take care of your child’s feet as they will have to last them a lifetime. Podiatrists can recommend a course of non-invasive treatment that can help your child.
Written by Zelina Loh
The Sole Clinic