When it comes to the feet, children are not “little adults”. Although they may suffer from some of the same conditions as adults, their presentations are different, as are the treatments. Additionally, some conditions are unique to childhood.
A recent study found that 25% of children ages 6-12 years have conditions of the foot or ankle serious enough to require professional treatment. The most common conditions are ingrown toenails, warts, other skin conditions, flatfoot, and gait abnormalities.
The foot and ankle are common locations of injuries in both children and adults. Athletic children are especially at risk for foot and ankle injuries. Ankle sprains are frequent in children, and are usually easily treated with a short course of immobilization. Fractures (broken bones) are also common in children. These often affect the growth plates of bones and can be difficult to diagnose, even with specialized X-rays. Our doctors have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of these growth plate, or Salter, fractures. Any injuries to bones in children should always be evaluated for these fractures.
Children are prone to many skin conditions. Rashes due to fungal infections or to contact with irritants (contact dermatitis) are very common and are usually easily treated with prescription topical medications.
Warts are benign skin growths caused by viral infection. They often occur on the sole of the foot (plantar warts), and also between the toes. They can be painful with weightbearing and with shoe pressure. They are usually successfully treated with prescription topical medications.
Ingrown toenails are the most common condition of the foot in both adults and children. They can be caused b y improper trimming, tight shoes, injury, or hereditarily misshaped nails. They are easily treated with a simple procedure performed right in the office.
About 34% of children have flatfoot deformity, 7% of which are severe. This can result in pain and imbalanced gait. Usually, in-shoe insoles can improve and control the condition.
Although many very young children walk on their tip-toes, most outgrow this habit as toddlers. About 1% of children continue to toe walk. These children often have tight Achilles tendons and can be treated with a course of bracing and shoe insoles.
Other gait abnormalities such as in-toeing and out-toeing are occasionally seen. These must be carefully evaluated to determine their causes and appropriate treatments.
In summary, children have a variety of possible foot and ankle problems, all of which the doctors at Melbourne Podiatry Associates can evaluate and treat. A referral is not usually necessary. Please call our offices for your appointment.