Pediatric Foot Care
Little Feet, Big Problems
Every parent wants the best for their child. So when something seems “not quite right,” or your little one complains about foot pain after a fun day on the playground, you’re understandably anxious and eager to find out what’s wrong.
As parents ourselves, we get it!
Here’s the thing, too—while many childhood foot problems are temporary or self-correcting in time, others are not. And if your child does have a problem that needs special care, it’s critical that we identify and treat it as early as possible. It’s best to tackle these issues early, before they become more difficult to treat and more likely to cause problems into adulthood.
At Heartland Foot & Ankle, our aim is to treat every child who comes into our office as one of our own. That means not only offering the best treatments available (so your child can keep doing the things they love, now and in the future), but also creating a warm, caring environment for the entire family.
Children Need Podiatrists, Too!
When most people think about foot doctors, they tend to associate the practice with mature, “well-used” feet. But the truth is “new” feet sometimes require attention, too.
Why? Here are some reasons:
- In the first year, your child’s feet grow, change shape, and expand rapidly. If he or she wears shoes that are too small or too tight, it could impact their development.
- As a toddler, your child begins taking his or her first steps. This is the time they learn how to run, play, and move freely. Sometimes, children learn how to walk by standing on their toes. This is common and easily treated if stopped early.
- Throughout adolescence, your child plays on the playground, joins a sports team, and runs around freely – and sometimes injuries can happen. Without proper treatment, your child’s growing bones could be permanently damaged.
That being said, you should always keep in mind that children sometimes are unable to recognize when there is a problem. A painful heel or ingrown toenail can easily go unnoticed merely because children don’t quite know how to communicate their symptoms.
So it’s important that you pay close attention to your child’s walking gait and feet shape. And if they ever complain of discomfort in their feet or ankles, your best course of action is to come in and visit our office for a better evaluation. By catching foot injuries early, you could improve your child’s future.
Interested In Understanding How Orthotics Can Help Your Child?
Common Foot Injuries in Children
So what should you be looking for? This is an incomplete list, but some of the most common foot problems we see in kids include:
- Flat feet. Many kids actually don’t develop permanent arches until age 5 or so, and active treatment may not be necessary. However, if there is a serious, permanent, structural cause behind the flat arches, it’s critical to identify and address it early.
- In-toeing and out-toeing. Due to a rotation in the feet, shins, or thighs, your child’s toes point in our out instead of straight ahead and parallel. This too can go away in time on its own, but in other cases treatments like custom orthotics may be necessary.
- Heel pain.This is common for children, and the usual culprit behind it is a condition known as Sever’s disease. This often happens between the ages of 8 and 14 and is usually seen in children who are physically active.
- Ingrown toenails. These are often caused by tight-fitting shoes—a common problem when kids’ feet grow so fast! However, it’s also possible that your child may be genetically predisposed to developing ingrown toenails again and again. Fortunately, we have a simple treatment that can provide permanent relief.
- Sports injuries.Always a possibility when participating in physical activities.
- Plantar warts. Kids love sharing these with one another, unfortunately. Our office can provide treatment to remove these viral growths.
Any of these issues could end up being a warning sign of more serious issues that may be lurking under the surface. We say this not to scare you, of course! We just want to stress that getting a professional evaluation is the wisest course of action.
So, listen to what your kids are telling you or showing you about their pain. If they complain to you directly, or if they demonstrate any signs that their feet might be bothering them (withdrawing from play, compulsively pulling off shoes, walking with a strange gait, etc.), please come and see us! If more treatment is necessary, we’ll make sure your child gets it. And if not, you’ll still be able to enjoy peace of mind.
Effective Treatments from Doctors Who Specialize in Children’s Feet
Although they may look like adult feet from the outside, children’s feet are in many ways very different—and often require different methods of treatment. Most obviously, they are still growing! Bones are also softer and more flexible in early and middle childhood, and the immune system is still underdeveloped—among other differences.
That means kids often develop different kinds of injuries than adults—and when the diagnoses are the same, the best treatment option may be quite different.
Our team is specially trained to respond to the unique needs and challenges of children’s feet. This includes several advanced therapies that are safe and highly effective for kids, including MLS laser therapy, that can help get them back to sports and play faster after an injury.
We also offer an affordable orthotics outgrowth program for kids who need custom inserts but keep outgrowing them! Once you’re enrolled in our program, any new sets of orthotics your under-13 child needs cost only $99 each for three years, no matter how many times your child outgrows them. We always want to be sure your child can get the high quality level of care they need!
Going to the Doctor Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
We know that going to a doctor’s office can be a scary proposition for a kid, especially a specialist clinic that doesn’t exclusively deal with pediatrics. But it doesn’t have to be!
At Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates, we work hard to make each appointment a warm, welcome, and inviting one for your child—as well as any other children who might be tagging along on the trip! We are always well stocked with special snacks and treats, coloring books, toys, and other exciting things for your little ones.
And as parents ourselves, we love working with kids and always take time to smile, encourage them, and explain every test or treatment we need to perform in language that kids can understand. Although we can’t promise there will never be a meltdown, we do everything we can to make sure your child feels valued and loved—because they are!
So if you’re concerned that your child’s feet are in pain, or may not be developing correctly or on time, please call us to schedule an appointment right away! As doctors, there’s no greater satisfaction than helping ensure your little one is on the right path to lifelong healthy feet!