School is barely in session and already the FAANT offices are overrun with kids. Lots and lots of kids! We joked that I think I saw the entire 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in one afternoon. It really did seem that every patient that day was around 10 years old! As I was giggling with another patient, who thought she had mistakenly walked into a pediatrician's office, she really made me aware that most adults don't realize that kids have foot issues. She asked why they were all there and what kinds of things kids come in with, then laughingly suggested that they couldn't all have ingrown toenails!
After I stopped laughing, I thought I would enlighten my readers on the kinds of problems kids have with their feet. In fact, if you happen to have kids, a great way to educate yourself and them is to ask for a copy of our free coloring book with fun pictures and information about childhood foot issues. Here is a good summary to tide you through until you get your free coloring book.
Kids have foot pain just like adults, but because of their rapidly growing bones and tendons, they often have confusing symptoms and need to be treated in different ways.
Some kids are just born with, to put it simply, jacked up feet. Arches that are really high (cavus feet) or practically non-existent (flat feet or calcaneal valgus) are common, with varying symptoms. Some kids walk and run really strange, often tripping and falling. Some kids have severe problems fitting shoes or wearing them out rapidly. Many kids experience "growing pains" or cramps in their feet and lower legs - these are never normal despite what many pediatricians are taught to believe. Heavier kids have more foot related issues, but thinner kids have foot pain too.
Kids with abnormal feet and gait issues often suffer from traveling pains and overuse sports injuries.
The most common is calcaneal apophysitis, a.k.a. Sever's disease or pediatric heel pain. These kids have pain in their growth plate that worsens with activity. I saw a lot of this in the last few days due to early season football and soccer. The cleats and the increases activity are the beginning of the perfect storm of pediatric heel pain. Add to that the love of barefoot and flip flops, we have an early Fall epidemic of heel pain. The good news is that pediatric heel pain is often pretty easy to treat if you focus on the cause, improper biomechanics, or simply said, jacked up feet.
Other common foot type related ailments seen in kids are posterior tibial tendinitis (pain and swelling in the largest tendon that holds up your arch), Achilles tendinitis (pain in the largest tendon on the back of your heel), shin splints (pain in the front of your shin bone or lower legs), and Osgood-schlatter's disease (pain and swelling in the growth plate just below your knee). These are also treated primarily by realigning the biomechanics of the child's foot.
Kids with gait issues may in-toe or out-toe causing muscle and joint imbalances. Some kids are even chronic toe walkers. These types of issues can be foot type related or can be caused by some underlying nerve issues. Orthotics (shoe inserts to balance abnormal foot function) and physical therapy are usually very helpful.
Of course, kids also can suffer from traumatic sprains and strains as well as stress fractures and fractures. No one is immune to fall down and go boom!
What else do we see in kids? Lots and lots of ingrown toenails and pesky warts. Skin and nail issues are abundant and seem to be ignored all summer long. I implore all parents to take a look at their kid's feet and nails. Little problems become big headaches when not addressed. A simple ingrown toenail can become a huge abscess when picked at repeatedly by your child.
So while I replenish my kids treat drawer and sticker stash, remember that kids have lots of foot issues too, and at Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas, we treat lots of kids! Request a free coloring book for your kids and don't ignore their feet!
P.S. Just so adults don't feel left out, we have a free book for you too. Just request a copy of Got Feet for yourselves. No pictures to color, but lots of great information!
Click here to request an appointment!