Top 5 Questions Parents ask a Podiatrist
1) ”What are flat feet?
I feel my child does not exhibit a foot arch. Does he/she have flat feet? Can it be cured?”
Babies are commonly born with flat feet and in some children, flat feet structures persist well into their childhood. Do not be overly worried. This largely occurs because children’s bones and joints are flexible, and when they stand with weight on, the arch looks collapsed. Young children also have a fat pad on the inner border of their feet that hides the arch. What you can do to see the hidden arch if any is when you get your child to stand tip toe and notice for an arch. Normally, flat feet ‘disappear’ by age 7 as the feet become less flexible and the muscles supporting the foot develops. Only 10-20% children will continue to have flat feet into adulthood.
For children who do not develop an arch, treatment is not necessary unless the foot is stiff or painful, or it causes other alignment issues in the hips and knees.Treatment of symptomatic flat feet will include a substantial amount of muscular and gait training, in addition, possibly use of insoles. Insoles by itself very rarely will cure flat feet, even if you get your child to wear the insoles for 12 hours a day. No treatment will ‘unflatten’ the foot other than surgical correction. Flat feet do not always mean bad feet. There are people with very flat feet that have no pain/discomfort duringactivities because of factors like good muscle strength and flexibility and/or good lower leg alignment.
2) ”Some say that W sitting is not good for children. Is that true?
W sitting is when a child sits with their bottom on the floor andtheir legs out beside them, forming a “W” shape. It is common for children younger than 4 to W sit because most children are born with their thighbones turned in, a condition known as femoral anteversion. W sitting also gives them a wider base to support their core which is still developing. However, if the child still prefers W sitting after 4 years of age, then we have to break the habit. This is because W sitting puts hip joints into extreme ‘in-turning’. This tightens the muscles on the inside and stretches the muscles on the outside of the hips. Since everything is connected, what happens at the hips also affects the joints at the knees and ankles. This extreme rotation can cause a knock-kneed position and/or in-toeing of the feet. This is stressful on the joints and can affect balance and coordination
3) “Are flip flops bad for children?”
It is not harmful to allow children wear flip flops for short periods of time. The reason being it is difficult to grip the front of the slippers and lifting it up with their small toes. So some children might resort to dragging their flip flops while walking which may create a habit. Flip flops are only not intended for children with foot or leg problems, balancing issues and/or with pain.
4) “Is it okay to wear hand me down shoes?”
Children over 3 years of age experience increases of one-half a foot size every four to six months. A shoe made of average material should last between 6 months to 1 year. So YES! If they are in good condition, especially at the outsole to make sure it is not slippery for use. Just remember to clean them well before use.
5) “My child seems to be falling down more often than his/her peers. Is the child just clumsy or is there a problem with their walking”
A certain number of falls, bumps and bruises are to be expected with toddlers. They are growing rapidly and developing brand-new motor skills. The body has to train some muscles and learn how to process signals properly. While seeing scrapes and such on your precious child can be difficult (and holding him while he cries out the hurt can be heart wrenching), not every bump requires a doctor’s visit or even any worry.
During growth spurts, coordination may seem to backslide briefly while your child gets used to her bigger body. The brain is still judging and acting on the little body it had before the growth spurt, but the reality of the (slightly!) bigger body means the step just isn’t the same — and a tumble happens. That’s perfectly normal, but if her coordination doesn’t return shortly, it might be time to seek help
Take note of how the child falls down the next time you see him/her in action. If the child tends to trip on their own feet or have difficulty clearing the ground resulting in a fall, then their walking should be examined by a medical professional. It can be due to malalignment issues, muscular tightness, certain inherent habits and/or flat feet. A podiatrist, physiotherapist or a pediatrician will be able to help you assess for any abnormalities
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