Feet are very different in childhood than they are in adulthood. Bones are still soft, flexible, and growing at an incredible rate. Muscles are still strengthening and developing their coordination. Legs and feet may even still be “unwinding” into a more adult-like alignment for the first several years of life after being tucked in in the womb.
Not surprisingly, common children’s foot and ankle conditions are often very different from those faced by adults. And even when children do develop “adult” conditions, the recommended treatment procedures may not be the same.
If your child’s feet are hurting, you need a good foot doctor who understands the unique challenges that growing feet face. You can find that with Dr. Daniel Walters in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago.
Common Children’s Foot Conditions
Foot and ankle problems that are unique to children, or especially common in them, include:
- Flat feet: Unlike adults, who often suffer collapsed arches due to years of wear and tear, kids usually get flat feet as a result of genetic factors. Many kids have what’s known as a “flexible” flatfoot where the arch disappears when they stand up; this usually disappears on its own with time. However, genetic bone deformities or neurological conditions may create a more rigid, painful flatfoot that needs treatment.
- In-toeing: The bones of the forefoot, shin, or even thigh may be rotated inward at birth, causing the toes to point inward as well. This is thought to be a result of fetal position in the uterus, although there are other possible explanations.
- Out-toeing: Similar to in-toeing, but with the bones rotated outward instead.
- Ingrown toenails: When very young children get ingrown toenails—even before the age where they start wearing shoes!—it’s usually a sign that their nails are overly curved, and they may need part of their nail matrix removed to prevent the ingrown toenail from returning again and again. Of course, kids are also prone to ingrown toenails due to outgrowing their shoes or stubbing their toes, too.
- Sever’s disease: Young teens going through a growth spurt are especially prone to this condition, which is not actually a disease. Instead, it’s irritation and inflammation in the exposed growth plate of the heel, which can occur due to playing sports or from bones that grow faster than the connection tendons and tissues.
- Plantar warts: Kids are working with immune systems that haven’t fully developed, and they also love to run around barefoot and touch just about everything. That makes them particularly susceptible to developing warts on the feet and hands. Warts can be embarrassing for a child, and if located in a weight-bearing area, they might be physically painful, too.
Gentle and Compassionate Foot Care for Children
A father and proud grandparent himself, Dr. Daniel Walters understands how important your child’s foot health is to you, and treats all his young patients as if they were members of his own family. We offer calm, compassionate care and take as much time as necessary to ensure that both parents and children understand what’s going on and can feel safe and comfortable.
Fortunately, kids are resilient. Many conditions may even correct on their own in time, and most others can be treated using conservative treatments only. However, whatever treatment your child needs—from surgery to simple observation, and everything in between—you can be assured of our commitment to providing the best possible care as simply and unobtrusively as possible.
If your little one’s feet are hurting, or you notice any signs that they might be in pain—awkward gait, limping, withdrawal from physical activities, or even frequent requests to be carried—book an appointment with Dr. Daniel J. Walters Foot & Ankle Care. You can connect with us online, or call our office directly at (773) 586-0050.