Pediatric Foot Care
Due to their high levels of physical activity, many children develop foot problems. Unfortunately, children have a certain resiliency that allows signs and symptoms of underlying issues to often go unnoticed. Further, there are numerous instances wherein child foot issues are misdiagnosed as simply being a matter of structural development the child will eventually outgrow (when this isn’t necessarily the case).
As a result, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS)—a professional organization formed by over 7,400 foot and ankle surgeons across the nation—has made a call for a renewed effort and heightened emphasis to be placed on properly diagnosing and treating pediatric foot conditions.
The lower limbs are complex anatomical structures for people of all ages, and especially for children because of the growth feet undergo to support their developing bodies.
Accordingly, ACFAS members advocate for education to better enable pediatricians—typically the primary care providers for children—to diagnose problems. Also, they wish to help parents understand the best ways to manage foot problems when they arise. Common symptoms parents should be aware of include:
- Abnormal arch flattening
- Ankles turning in more than usual
- Frequent cramping in the legs and lower limbs
- Drastic changes in normal physical activity levels, including the lack of desire to play outside or participate in favorite sports
These symptoms can indicate any of the conditions we see more often in our young patients, like flat feet, bunions, or painful heels (Sever’s disease).
For certain conditions—like Sever’s disease—the problem will eventually resolve over time as your child grows. It is a mistake, however, to think this is always the case. Pediatric foot problems require a distinct class of diagnosis and care. Even ones that do naturally improve in time still often have symptoms that need to be addressed with treatment offered by medical professionals, like those you’ll find here at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle.
Contributing to the complexity of child foot conditions is the fact every bone in the lower extremities has a growth plate. Many of these growth plates stay open to allow growth through the teenage years. Until the growth plates are fully developed and have closed, child foot problems can require a complex, specialized approach. Since the issues can be difficult to treat, foot and ankle surgeons undergo special training to care for these developing bones.
Naturally, our treatment plans vary based on the condition being addressed, but conservative (nonsurgical) options include activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, custom orthotics, physical therapy, and rest. Fortunately, conservative treatment plans are often quite effective in resolving the problem being experienced.
There is good news when surgery is need as well, though. Young patients typically heal faster, experience less pain, and tend to be more mobile following their procedures than adults. Even with that being the case, our goal is to exhaust nonsurgical options before recommending a surgery. It is important to know that some surgical procedures should not be performed before a foot has reached physical maturity.
Of course, we will discuss treatment options together and you can ask any questions you need to in order to make the best possible decision for your child’s health. Consultation with foot and ankle experts—like the ones you find at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle—will help ensure that any foot issue your child has developed will not become more serious as he or she gets older.
No matter if you need to request an appointment or would simply like additional information on child foot care, connect with our Avon office by calling (970) 949-0500, our Frisco office at (970) 668-4565, or take advantage of our online form right now.