Podopediatrics is a field of podiatry which focuses on the treatment of children and the various conditions that can affect a young person’s feet and lower limbs.
Children with strong, healthy feet experience fewer problems with their lower extremities later in life. It is important to inspect your child’s feet periodically so that problems can be identified and corrected without delay. If there is a family history of foot problems, it is advisable to have your child‘s feet examined once they begin walking. Children may be affected by foot conditions including in-toeing and out-toeing, flat feet, heel pain, sports injuries, ingrown nails, and warts.
During the first year of life your baby’s feet remain flexible and too much stress or pressure can affect the shape of their developing feet causing deformities. Improper development of infants’ feet may lead to problems in other areas of the body including their feet and back. Ensure that your baby has the freedom to kick and stretch without restriction and that shoes and socks do not squeeze the toes.
Toddlers begin walking when they are ready; do not try to force your toddler to walk before the time is right. Once your baby begins to walk, pay attention to his or her gait (method of walking) to identify any abnormalities. Many young children will begin to walk with their feet turned inwards, a gait called in-toeing or pigeon toed. Older toddlers often walk with their feet turned outwards, called out-toeing. In normal development children usually attain their adult alignment before the age of 6 years. However if in-toeing persists or out-toeing begins too early, these gait abnormalities may place undue stress on the joints of the feet, knees, and hips. It is important to identify them early so that they can be corrected more easily.
We know how important sports and physical activity are to the development of teenagers. However, teenagers are undergoing many physical changes as they grow into young adults. Without proper footwear and taking precautions, injuries can occur. Often, teenagers who experience foot and ankle pain tend to avoid these activities. A recent survey found that almost half of high school students who participate in school or recreational sports had at least one foot injury or episode of foot pain. As well, 2 out of 10 teens experience pain as a result of poorly constructed footwear or improper shoe selection.
It is important to treat teenage foot problems and educate teens with regards to choosing footwear and proper care of their feet, in order to help them maintain an active and healthy lifestyle throughout their lifetime.
Children’s foot problems can often be corrected using a number of means that range from behaviour modification to special shoes or custom orthotics. Splints or night braces may be prescribed to treat more serious issues. Remember to check your child’s shoe size often to ensure there is sufficient space between the toes and at the end of the shoe to allow for free movement. Do not allow your child to wear hand-me-down shoes.
For more information about podopediatric care or to schedule an appointment for your child, please contact either of our 2 area offices.