How to Tell if Your Child Will Suffer from
Foot Abnormalities in the Future!
Commonly, parents will present to the Podiatrists office with their 16 or 17 year old son or daughter who has been complaining of recent pains or aches in their legs and/or feet. When they find out that their child’s current foot problem was one that could have been diagnosed and corrected much earlier in life, parents become upset and wonder why their Pediatrician never said anything! It is becoming less often the case, but Pediatricians have long believed that children will “out grow” their foot problems and that it is nothing to worry about. We now know that this is not the case, and dismissing earlier indicators can lead to severe problems in a child’s early adult life and on occasion surgical interventions are required.
It is often difficult to tell before your child begins to walk if they are experiencing trouble, pains or aches, because without bearing weight on their feet it is impossible to know how those feet will feel. However, you can help catch abnormalities early on, just by using your eyes! Look at your infant’s feet: does something look abnormal? If there is something that sticks out to you, contact your Podiatrist. Many Podiatrists specialize in Pediatrics, and if they don’t they know someone who does! It never hurts to have a professional assess your child’s foot and leg position early on. If there is no abnormality present, all the better, but if there is one present, it has now been detected early on and can be monitored or corrected from the start.
Once your child does begin to walk there are a few important indicators that may signal a foot problem, and that you as parents can easily identify.
Toe Walking: Infants will commonly walk on their toes, which can be normal, but what isn’t normal is persistent toe walking. If you find that your child continually walks on their toes, it might be wise to have your child evaluated.
Pain: Children should never complain of muscle or joint pain. If your little one starts to complain of foot, knee or hip pain, it is worth have a professional investigate its source.
Family History: If you as parents have suffered from a foot problem, it is possible that you have passed on that same wonderful foot-type to your child, and they are likely to follow suite with presentation of foot problems.
In-Toeing: In-toeing is never normal in a child and can signify a rotation in your child’s foot, leg, thigh or hip! Do not let anyone tell you that your child will outgrown this problem. In-toeing can be indicative of a common but more serious abnormality in your child’s feet and with early intervention, casting and bracing can correct this deformity. If left untreated it can cause complications down the road for your child, and often they will require surgery for correction. A sign of in-toeing, to the untrained eye comes with activity by your child. Your child’s schoolteacher may inform you of frequent falling or tripping and withdrawal of your child from activities at school and these are all comments you should take seriously. Bring your child in to see a Podiatrist for evaluation.
If your child has an identified abnormality that a Podiatrist would like to initiate treatment for, first get a second opinion. It is always important to investigate all options, and hear several opinions before making a decision. Secondly, it is important that you, as the parent, take an active role in your child’s treatment plan. So many times casting and bracing regimens fail because parents do not want their child to wear a brace or leave the casting on for the specified time period. As Podiatrists, we understand that it is not an easy thing to see your child confined by their treatment modalities, but I assure you, early intervention is the key to successful treatment. Being lackadaisical with treatment leads to recurrence of their initial abnormality and again, leads to complications later in life that may require surgery.
As mentioned, if you do notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, it is important that you see a Podiatrist for evaluation of your child’s feet. However, do not hesitate to contact your local Podiatrist if none of those signs or symptoms are present. It may help give you peace-of-mind to have your child evaluated for safe measures. It can assure you that everything looks as it should, and it will help you build a relationship with a Podiatrist who knows your child and can monitor them on a yearly basis to ensure their feet continue to look health and structurally normal.