Your children's feet serve as the foundation for their entire body. Like adult feet, these complex biomechanical marvels perform a wide range of functions, including supporting body weight, conforming to uneven terrain, aiding balance, and making it possible for kids to walk, skip, hop, run, jump, and more. However, unlike adult feet, children's feet aren't fully formed; they're made of soft cartilage that gradually converts to bone and doesn't reach maturity until between the ages of 13 and 15 for girls, and 15 and 18 for boys.
Foot Problems Are Inherited
Although it’s common to hear that kids grow out of foot problems, this isn’t always the case. Take a look at your own feet and physical problems. If you have flat feet, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, bunions, back, knee, or hip pain it’s likely that your child will inherit your foot and musculoskeletal issues.
Young people's feet are particularly at risk for podiatric problems during the years that they're developing rapidly—and with kids taking an average of 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day before turning 18, there are far too many opportunities for injuries and other issues to arise. Even more concerning: If things like ingrown toenails or inherited foot conditions aren't detected—and treated—early on, they can become more serious or long-term problems. Fortunately, you've come to the right place for help.
Gentle and Highly-Skilled Pediatric Podiatry Care in North Seattle
As a parent, you're committed to keeping your kids healthy and providing them with the tools they need to succeed—and, at Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City, that's our goal as well. Our expert podiatrist, Dr. Rion Berg, has been in practice for 40 years and, in that time, he's helped countless patients of all ages overcome painful, stubborn, and unsightly podiatric conditions. In 2016, he opened the Seattle Center for Children's Foot Health at the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake city to help parents like you set their children's feet on the path to lifelong wellness. Here's a look at some of the most common pediatric foot and ankle conditions we treat:
- Ingrown toenails. Caused by skin that grows over the edges of a nail or a nail that grows into the skin itself, ingrown toenails are a painful condition that can lead to infection and other complications. Toenail trauma, tight shoes, improper toenail cutting, and inherited tendencies are risk factors.
- Warts. Strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) invade the skin through cuts, cracks, and other vulnerabilities in the skin's surface, resulting in hard, grainy growths that can bleed and spread into clusters when scratched. Early treatment is necessary to prevent warts from becoming painful.
- Sever's disease. When the tendon attached to the back of the heel pulls on the heel plate, heel pain can result. Though children can develop plantar fasciitis, which also causes heel pain, Sever's disease is often a more likely cause.
- Overuse injuries. Children who are exceptionally active or play sports can develop overuse injuries like strains, sprains, Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, and other painful issues.
- Plantar fasciitis. An inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of the feet, plantar fasciitis is characterized by heel pain that's worse in the morning, or after standing or sitting for long periods.
- Developmental flatfoot. Your child will not grow out of developmental flatfoot, and it needs to be treated. Depending on the age of your child we may decide to cast them for custom orthotics to properly align their feet. However, for younger children with rapidly growing feet, we'll recommend specially designed orthotics called Little Steps®. Little Steps® are an affordable option for treating kids with flat feet. As your kids' feet grow we'll replace their orthotics with a larger size.
When to See a Podiatrist
If your child has developed warts, ingrown or fungal toenails, or a similarly obvious problem, there's no question that they can benefit from an appointment with an experienced podiatrist. But what if you suspect your child's suffering from a more subtle issue or are worried that they may have inherited your own musculoskeletal foot problems? Here are some things to watch for in children that may indicate the need for a podiatric evaluation:
- Unable to keep up with peers
- Withdraws from activities they enjoy
- Frequently trips and falls
- Doesn't want to show you their feet
- Complains of foot or ankle pain
- Your child often asks to be carried after walking short distances
- Your child has unusual walking patterns
- Your child has pain in their lower legs
In children 5 years of age and younger, also watch for issues like flat feet, toe-walking, in-toeing/out-toeing, lack of coordination, and poor balance. As your children get older, keep an eye out for knee, shin, or heel pain; poor posture or knocked knees; stress fractures; and ankle pain or instability.