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Childrens Foot Care, Screening and Management

Physio&SoleClinic Podiatry March 18 2016

A Child’s Feet

Parents are always excited to witness their children’s developmental milestones, such as walking, talking, speaking and understanding. However, parents may overlook certain foot conditions that may consequentially affect their growth into adolescence and adulthood. Having feet problems will affect one’s mobility and quality of life. Therefore it is important to seek medical attention when an abnormal foot condition is suspected. A paediatrician or podiatrist can identify any anomalies in the early stages, and help you understand and monitor your child’s condition better.

 

Should your child see a podiatrist?

A podiatrist is trained in assessing a child’s lower limb development. Children as early as 12 months old may visit a podiatrist. It is never too early to see a podiatrist as the earlier we identify issues and start treatment, the better the results. Even if no intervention is required for certain cases, we will be able to track the subsequent development in the child’s feet.

It is highly recommended to bring your child to a podiatrist if you spot any of these signs:

  • In-toeing or out toeing
  • Pain when walking
  • Complains of tired or sore legs frequently
  • Flat feet beyond the age of five years old
  • Bunions or other deformities
  • Limping
  • Disordered walking or standing behaviours (i.e. bowed legs, knocked knees, flat feet, toe walking or tiptoeing)
  • Not walking by two years old

Here are some insights on conditions your child may have:

  • In-toeing

Also known as ‘pigeon toe’, the feet curve inwards instead of pointing straight ahead when walking or running. If your child displays any in-toeing, he or she may outgrow the condition naturally at 2-3 years old. In-toeing may be a result of other conditions such as tibial torsion, femoral torsion and metatarsus adductus. More severely, these may cause your child to trip and stumble frequently.

 

  • Flat feet

Flat feet, also known as “fallen arches” or “pes planus”, occur in approximately 20– 30% of the population. This is a common problem that may lead to other issues later on in life if left untreated.

In the beginning, all infants’ feet appear flat as the arch has yet to be formed due to low muscle tone and weak ligaments. There is also a fat deposit which can hide the natural curve of the arch area. This fat pad usually disappears when the child is about 2 years old. You need not worry about your child’s flat feet until they are 3 years and older, as almost all children appear to have flat feet until this age.

 

  • Toe walking/ Tiptoeing

Toe walking occurs when your child walks without making ground contact with their heels. Often observed when a child starts to walk, toe walking can be a part of a developmental phase. Children who walk on their toes can develop overly tight muscles at the back of their lower legs, posing an injury risk when any physical exertion is involved.

Children should outgrow it by the age of three. If your child continues to toe walk after three, it is best to consult a podiatrist. Like in-toeing, a series of assessments would need to be conducted to ascertain if a child’s condition is different from the norm.

 

What to expect from a visit to the podiatrist?

The podiatrist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your child’s legs and feet to identify any biomechanical abnormalities.

Dynamic and static assessments will include:

  • Hip examination
  • Knee examination
  • Ankle and foot examination
  • Standing and gait analysis
  • Footwear analysis and advice

From the findings, the podiatrist will be able to construct a treatment plan for your child. Treatment may include the application of foot orthoses, footwear changes, or exercises. If required, other specialist care such as physiotherapy or gait retraining may be organised.

It is important to take care of your child’s feet as they will have to last them a lifetime. Have your child assessed by us if there are any concerns. Our podiatrists will be able to provide non-invasive treatment to facilitate your child’s development. Nothing makes us happier than seeing happy, healthy and active children running around our practice!

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Phone: 9126 8257

Fax: 6281 1209

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