Foot problems can happen at any age, including patients who have just begun to take their first steps. In fact, some foot and ankle conditions are more likely to develop in children due to the fast-growing nature of their feet. If your child has difficulty running and playing, or complains of foot pain, they may need to be evaluated by our podiatry team to prevent their condition from causing problems in later life.
Reasons a Child May Need to See a Podiatrist
An evaluation from a podiatrist has many benefits for younger patients. In addition to diagnosing potential problems, our foot doctors can establish healthy habits and intervene early to help prevent painful problems in the future.
Our podiatrists can help diagnose and correct many different childhood foot and ankle conditions, such as:
- In-toeing. In-toeing, sometimes called "pigeon toes," is a condition where the top of the child's feet point toward each other. It is common in infants and usually passes by the time a child is five years old. However, it can cause problems for toddlers—especially if they trip and fall or are only pigeon-toed in one foot. Our podiatrists can help perform stretching exercises and other treatments to help straighten the feet out.
- Toe-walking. Infants and toddlers may begin walking on tiptoe, gradually learning to use their entire foot as their muscles and balance develop. If your child is still walking on tiptoe after age two, or only walks tiptoe on one leg, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
- Flat feet. Children are born with flat feet, developing arches as their feet grow and they move from crawling to walking. Unfortunately, not all children will grow out of having flat feet, causing pain in the feet and legs that makes it hard to keep up with their peers. We can evaluate whether your child's foot development is progressing naturally or if intervention is needed to help develop the arch.
- Heel pain. Pediatric heel pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. One of the most common is Sever's disease, an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. The changing dynamics of the foot place too much strain on the Achilles tendon, causing pain at the back of the heel when the child stands, walks, or runs.
- Skin and nail conditions. Children often run around barefoot, placing them at risk of infections such as athlete's foot, plantar warts, and fungal toenails. A child who insists on wearing shoes that are too small can also suffer injuries such as calluses, corns, or ingrown toenails. Early pediatric care allows these problems to be caught before drastic interventions and treatments are necessary.
- Foot deformities. Children may inherit foot abnormalities from their parents, such as gait problems or foot deformities, that cause problems throughout the body. Proper diagnosis and treatment from childhood can slow the progression of these conditions. For example, custom orthotics can relieve the pain of hereditary problems and guide the foot into position before it is fully developed.
- Clubfoot. Clubfoot commonly affects newborns, causing one or both feet to appear twisted or blunt. If left untreated, clubfoot may cause arthritis, difficulty walking, and lifelong disability. Treatment should begin immediately and may include progressive stretching, casting, walking exercises, or surgery.
- Sports injuries. Active children give their feet and ankles a workout, increasing the chances of overuse injuries. Aggressive training schedules without enough rest in between can lead to tendonitis, stress fractures, shin splints, and turf toe in young athletes.
If your child is struggling with a foot or ankle problem, the specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry are here to help. We offer free initial consultations and create a customized treatment plan to encourage healthy development of your child's feet. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your first visit.