Are you one of the thousands of parents in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and around the United States that is concerned about how your child runs or walks? Have you noticed that their feet and ankles turn in or out? Do you question your pediatrician on whether they have "normal" feet? You are not alone. Most childhood foot deformities and abnormal biomechanics are ignored unless they are severe in nature. If your child was born with a severe clubfoot or an obvious rocker bottom flat foot, your pediatrician would have you running to the podiatrist or orthopedist. Why is it that mild to moderate foot and ankle problems are mostly ignored until the child is complaining of pain? Basically, most pediatricians feel the children will "grow out of it". Sadly, if you take a poll of the millions of Americans with foot problems and realize the magnitude of crippling foot deformities in the United States alone; obviously most people do not "grow out" of their foot problems.
So what kinds of foot and ankle problems should parents look for?
The most common foot problem ignored in children is a flexible flat foot. This can be seen in combination with in toeing or out toeing as well. These kids have an arch that collapses to the ground when they bear weight or walk. Their foot is unstable and often their ankle collapses in as well when they walk. Some accommodate for this problem by out toeing. Often, the child will actually in toe to try to stabilize their foot. These kids have trouble running fast and also may have trouble standing on their toes. They fatigue easily and are wearing out their shoe excessively. The problem with early diagnosis is that it is normal to have a low arched foot before the age of 3 and most children do not have a well developed arch before age 4. X-rays, gait analysis and physical exam by a podiatrist can help guide parents on whether their child's foot is normal. Most children with mild to moderate flexible flat foot can be treated with stretching, sturdy shoes and a pre-fabricated orthotic device. Some need physical therapy and a custom orthotic. Only severe flat feet require surgical correction and surgery should not be contemplated unless the child has failed the more conservative approach.
The second most commonly seen children's foot deformity is actually the opposite of a flat foot. These children have an extremely high arched or cavus foot. Many have metadductus, which is a curving of the metatarsals or long bones in the forefoot toward the midline of the body. These kids have C shaped feet early on and often hate wearing shoes because they don't fit right. They also may have trouble with tripping and falling. They literally trip over their own feet in gait. A child with a cavus foot is more comfortable walking on their toes, so are often brought into the office with a complaint of toe walking. Many children with cavus feet actually have an underlying neurological problem, but it is just as common that they inherited this foot type. If this foot type is identified in the first few months of life, casting and bracing can often help correct the deformity. In an older child, physical therapy and orthotics are quite helpful. Surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon and repair metadductus with a cavus foot may be needed if the deformity is significant.
So, why should a parent treat their childs foot if it doesn't hurt? Having excessively flexible flat feet or a rigid high arched foot causes the child to have abnormal biomechanics. What does that mean? It means they walk funny and put abnormal pressures on their other joints. The knees, hips and lower back take a beating in these foot types. Often, permanent damage to joint cartilage and ligaments has already occurred when the parents seek help for their child. Think of your feet as tires on a car. If you have a wobbly tire or a bald spot in your tire, the struts wear out. In this case, the struts are your knees, hips and lower back. Adolescent back pain is often caused by foot problems.
What else can happen from abnormal feet? Common childhood foot complaints of calcaneal apophysitis (irritation of the heel growth plate), Achilles tendonitis and reoccurring sprained ankles are linked with an underlying foot deformity. These can lead to lifelong foot problems and progressive deformities including bunions, hammertoes, pinched nerves and a myriad of tendon issues.
If your child walks or runs funny, a life of foot and ankle pain can be avoided by a trip to the podiatrist. Don't assume they are going to "grow out of it". Visit your podiatrist and have your child's foot fully evaluated. A pair of orthotics now can often prevent a multitude of orthopedic issues later on in life!
Foot and ankle athletic injuries are very common. We specialize in sports medicine getting you back to sports as soon as possible. The most common foot and ankle sports injuries are plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, peroneal tendonitis, stress fractures, posterior tibial tendonitis, anterior tibial tendonitis, neuromas, tarsal tunnel syndrome, ankle instability, and metatarsalgia. Gait problems can also cause ileotibial band syndrome, patella tendonitis, back pain, hip pain and piriformis syndrome. Medications, injections, splinting, orthotics and/or physical therapy are often quite helpful in treating most injuries. Our doctors will discuss your injury and prescribe a course of treatment that will return you to sport stronger than when you came into the office.
Fall down, go boom? Foot and ankle trauma is extremely common no matter how young or old you are. Fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, sprain and strains, puncture wounds and toenail trauma occurs every day. Our physicians can help put you back together so that you can recover from your accident as fast as possible. Don't wait too long to seek medical advice after your accident or injury. Delaying treatment often only worsens the problem!
Foot pain related to congenital and acquired foot and ankle deformities is extremely prevalent in our society. Pain can be from flat feet or a high arched foot and associated gait problems; or be from a progressive deformity like a bunion or a hammertoe. Our doctors are extensively trained to diagnose and treat the underlying deformity to help you function at your best. We want to prevent your problems from getting worse, no matter what you inherited from your family! God may have had a sense of humor when he created your feet, but we will work with you to optimize your biomechanical function and aesthetics! No one should suffer from ugly, painful feet!
Neurological foot and ankle issues can be a burning or shooting pain, numbness, weakness or just a "pins and needles" sensation. Nerve can be affected by compression at the spine level, knee level, ankle level or in your foot. Neuropathy can be a subtle nerve degeneration from aging, diabetes, and a myriad of other causes. Do not assume your nerve issues will go away or that nothing can be done. A proper diagnosis can lead to alleviation of your nerve troubles.
Healthy Steps Shoe Store and Spa welcomes patients and their families as well as the surrounding communities of Grapevine, Southlake, Colleyville and beyond to help them with their therapeutic shoe gear needs. A certified pedorthotist is always available by appointment for consultation, and safe pedicures by a licensed medical nail technician highlight your spa experience. An extensive array of prefabricated and custom orthotics as well as many foot care essentials are also readily available to compliment your shoe and sandal purchases. We carry a wide variety of comfort shoe gear that are as pretty as they are comfortable.