As parents you know all about how to keep your kids healthy and happy: feed them properly, make sure they have comfortable clothes, teach them their ABC’s, monitor their feet. Wait, their feet? Yes! This part of your child’s health may not be high on your priority list of things to watch in their development, but it should be. Feet are the foundation of the whole body, and children’s foot care is crucial to make sure their feet and ankles can support kids through all their activities.
Gait Problems in Children
Some of the early concerns begin when your children begin to walk. You may notice their feet turn in or out, or they spend a lot of time on tiptoe. In-toeing and out-toeing are quite common in toddlers, and many times toe-walking is too. As your child gets older, bow legs or knock knees can occur as well. Most of the time this is not concerning, because as the child’s muscle memory and foot structure develop, they will normally outgrow these tendencies and learn to walk normally. You should come see us, however, if toe-walking or bowlegged gaits last beyond two years of age. These could indicate underlying problems that we should address.
The appearance of flat feet in babies in toddlers is quite common. For one thing, babies’ feet are pudgier, with a well-developed fat pad underneath that help give them stability as they learn to walk. For another, the arch doesn’t fully form in children’s feet until later—many times as late as 6 to 8 years of age. Most flatfoot issues disappear once this happens.
There are cases, however, where flat foot problems bother kids who like to be active in sports. If the foot is rigid, stiff, and painful, we may consider custom orthotics to better support the arch, or even surgery in severe cases.
Although bunions are more commonly a problem in women, this toe deformity that causes the joint at the base of your big toe to protrude away from the foot can happen in children’s feet as well. While adult bunions may have a variety of factors at play in their formation, juvenile bunions are almost always due to the foot structure your child inherits. Hypermobility—loose joints—in addition to flat feet or certain gait issues that put more pressure on the toe can cause it to lean in toward the others, forcing the joint outwards. Don’t ignore bunions forming in your child’s foot. Catching the problem early gives us more chance to arrest its development with conservative treatments like orthotics, shoe choice, night splints, and exercises. If these don’t help, surgery may be needed.
We don’t recommend children spend a lot of time barefoot once they start playing outside. One reason is because of injuries that can occur, like scrapes, stepping on something hard, or bruises from impact. Another is that it exposes their feet to bacteria and fungi, or viruses that cause plantar warts. These growths on the bottom of the sole can be annoying or even painful, and they are often hard to get rid of. Store products for warts contain chemicals that can harm tender skin, so if your child gets a wart, let us take care of it safely in our office.
Children’s Foot Care in Berkeley, CA
These are a few of the common foot problems your child could develop, but there are others, such as sports injuries or Sever’s disease. For diagnosis and treatment with a warm and caring attitude, bring your child to Yuko Miyazaki, DPM when he or she needs treatment for pain or other symptoms. Call our office at (510) 647-3744 to schedule your appointment, or request one on our website, and entrust your child’s feet to our care.