Children’s Foot Conditions: What to Watch For

Keeping children's feet healthyTaking your new baby home from the hospital is a happy occasion, but you might feel a little anxious, too. What do you really know about kids and how to take care of them? We want to share information you need about common children’s foot conditions, so you can be more confident as a parent and know when to get help.

Foot Problems in Babies and Toddlers

In the early months, issues are often related to the position of the limbs. If your baby has clubfoot at birth (the feet are turned in, bottoms twisted upward), it is important to start treatment within the first week or two. Fortunately, the Ponseti method of manipulating and casting your baby’s feet and legs will usually straighten out the limbs without surgery.

As your little one begins to stand and walk, you may observe other issues like in-toeing, out-toeing or flat feet. Again, these abnormalities will often correct themselves as the bones and tissues grow stronger, the arch forms, and muscle memory develops to move the feet and legs correctly. Bring your child in for an examination and we can help monitor the situation as he or she develops.

Foot Conditions as Your Child Grows Older

Some common issues are less serious, like ingrown toenails from shoes that are too tight, or plantar warts that kids can pick up almost anywhere they run around barefoot. These are fairly easy to treat conservatively. Another—Sever’s disease—involves a difference in rate of growth between the heel bone and tissues attached to it, which can cause heel pain with activity. This problem can also be treated without surgery and will disappear once your child has finished growing.

Others conditions, however, can be caused by inherited foot characteristics and lead to more serious difficulties. You should always consult us for the following children’s foot conditions:

  • Juvenile Bunions – Many times bunions begin to form later in life, mainly in women and often associated with poor shoe choices. When this deformity starts to develop in childhood, the issue is genetic, caused by the foot shape your child inherited. Bunions get progressively worse the longer you have them, so early development could lead to serious issues with pain and mobility in later years. Conservative treatments involving shoe choice, separators, stretches and orthotics are tried first, but correcting them with surgery early, while the bones are still soft and growing, can help your child’s foot develop more normally and stave off problems.
  • Tarsal Coalition – This condition is usually present at birth, but may not present symptoms until your child’s bones have matured. It is a coalition (connection) of two or more bones toward the back of the foot involving extra cartilage that grows between them. This makes for a stiff, rigid, flat arch that doesn’t absorb the impact of walking and can lead to pain and arthritis. We can try orthotics or physical therapy, but often surgery is needed to cut away the coalition and replace it with other tissue, or in severe cases, to fuse bones that are already arthritic to prevent pain.
  • Cavus Foot – This problem is the opposite of flat feet, in that the arch is very high and rigid, putting more pressure on the heel and ball of the foot. This problem can stem from an inherited structure but could also be caused by medical or neurological conditions, so be sure to let us examine your child’s feet if the arch seems too curved. Shoe modifications and bracing along with orthotics can sometimes bring relief, but surgery may be needed to cut and reposition the bones or loosen muscles and tendons that are pulling the arch out of position.

Help for Children’s Foot Problems in the Southeast Denver Area

When your child has one of these conditions, consult the expert foot doctors at Podiatry Associates, P.C. One of our specialties is pediatric podiatry, and our goal is to help your child develop healthy, pain-free feet that will carry them well through life. You can contact our team at our Parker, Castle Pines or Cherry Creek offices by calling (303) 805-5156 or communicating with us through our contact form on the website.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC