At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center, our board certified foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas are experts in pediatric footcare. One of the issues in evaluating children’s feet is that the patients are not able to articulate just what the problem or discomfort is. That’s when podiatrists have to become detectives and help track down the condition affecting the child. Here are some of the more common complaints we hear from our young patients and what they might mean:
“It hurts in the back of my foot.” Heel pain in children can be either an overuse issue or due to developmental factors. Medical conditions such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis can affect children just as they do adults if an injury has occurred during a sport or if too much repetitive exercise is straining a particular part of the foot. In cases of children ages 8-15, the growth plate at the back of the heel is still forming and this leaves a vulnerable area that can become inflamed and result in calcaneal apophysitis (also known as Sever’s disease, although it is not actually a “disease”).
“It’s too far to walk.” If children complain that their feet hurt after a long walk or that their feet feel “tired,” it can be a sign of flatfeet. This can be tricky to diagnose because children don’t develop arches until between the ages of four and six. The foot doctor has a number of ways to check for flatfeet and the solution may be as simple as an insert for the shoes that will help shape and train the arch to develop properly.
“Ow! Don’t touch my big toe!” Extreme pain in the side of a toe, especially if the toe looks red and swollen is most likely pointing to an ingrown toenail. If toenails are cut to short or children pick them off and they end up with a curved edge, the nail may start to grow down and into the skin. This causes extreme pain and, if the nail actually punctures the skin, can lead to an infection.
“There’s something on the bottom of my foot.” Plantar warts are hard growths that most often form on the balls of the feet or the heel. Caused by a viral infection that enters the skin through tiny cuts, it is very common in children. They may not hurt initially but can grow and spread. Usually a topical medication or freezing will remove the wart.
As children grow and become more responsible for their own personal hygiene parent see less of their feet. It’s important to periodically examine your child’s feet and to listen seriously to foot complaints. If your child is experiencing any discomfort or pain in the toe, foot or ankle, contact our Long Beach office for an appointment today.