Should my child see a Podiatrist?

Parents often wonder whether their child should see a podiatrist when they are experiencing foot pain or signs of an emerging problem. So when exactly is it worth booking an appointment?

The signs that a Podiatrist can help your child

A good rule of thumb is that if your child is experiencing pain in their ankle or feet, it’s a sign that you need to see your podiatrist. Pain isn’t a normal sign of growth and it should be professionally assessed, diagnosed and treated where necessary. The good news is that many foot care treatments will be minimal and non-surgical in nature, designed to offer gentle remedies whilst allowing the child’s normal physical development to continue unhindered. Podiatrists are also well used to working with children of all ages and are skilled at putting them (and their parents!) at ease so that the appointment can be relaxing, informative and helpful.

Common conditions of the feet in children

There are various common conditions of the feet and ankles in childhood which can cause a great deal of worry when they are observed by parents. Let’s take a look at some examples of common foot problems in children.

1. Club feet

Clubfoot tends to be noticed at birth and diagnosed via an ultrasound. The treatment begins at a week or so after birth and the baby will have a special cast fitted, which it will wear for two months, followed by medical shoes which will be worn until the child is around 4 years old.

2. Flat feet

Many parents first take their child to a podiatrist when they see flat-footedness. However, in most cases, this will not be anything too concerning, as foot arches are not actually visible until the child is aged around three. The foot arches then continue to develop until the child turns eight. The exception is if your child is experiencing pain in their feet, however, and this should be quickly assessed and treated.

3. Heel pain

Heel pain in children can be caused by a range of possible causes. Sever’s disease is one common example, and most commonly described as a ‘growing pain’. It radiates from the back of the heel, where the growth plate sits. This plate can be a weak area prone to repetitive stress – from active lifestyles and sports for example – leading to inflammation and pain. Again, treatment is generally conservative and gentle and focuses on rest and the avoidance of excessive pressure. Over time, the heel will finalise its full development process and no long-term issues will follow.

4. Bunions

These are found as commonly in children as adults and cause painful bumps on the ball of the foot. They can also lead to deviation of the big and second toe. A minimally invasive surgical procedure is usually required to realign the growth plate and used typically for children aged between 8-13.

The importance of early intervention

If your child complains of any foot or ankle pain and you can’t see an obvious cause (for example, a blister caused by ill-fitting shoes) then it is well worth booking an appointment with a podiatrist, such as the specialists at Podogo, without delay. If your child does need a professional treatment or foot care programme, then it will tend to be handled most easily in the early stages of the problem occurring. If left untreated, the problem can become worse.