Watch for These Common Foot Problems in Children

Children are affected by many of the same foot problems adults experience, including flat feet, plantar warts, ingrown toenails and heel pain. Some conditions occur more commonly in kids and are affected by their active lifestyles.

“I sometimes see toddlers because parents are concerned about the way their children are walking,” says Dr. Mark Smesko. “The majority of children are flat footed and toe walkers. I do exams, watch them walk and most times there are no issues. Some may need orthotics in their shoes to realign their feet. On a rare occasion, there may be a problem with a child’s knee or hip that may need to be referred to a pediatric orthopedic specialist.”

The following conditions are common in children.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts can occur at any age but are very common in children. Caused by a virus, some warts respond to topical acid treatment but most need a laser procedure to eradicate the problem.

“I perform a laser procedure on most warts,” Dr. Smesko said. “This is great for kids because no anesthesia is required. So there is no shot, no wound and, most times, the child can resume activities on the same day.”

Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail, usually on the big toe, grows into the skin. This results in pain with activity and shoe gear and can lead to infection.

Often times this problem is hereditary in nature.

“I see quite a few kids with ingrown nails,” says Dr. Smesko. “If there is an infection present, an oral antibiotic is prescribed prior to any procedure. Once the infection is calmed down, I most commonly perform an in-office procedure under local anesthetic to remove the offending nail border.

“Then I use a chemical to kill the root of the nail so that portion of nail does not grow again. Less than 10 percent of the time does that side of the nail grow back after this surgery. Most times, the child can return to all activities after a few days.”

Heel Pain

Heel pain is another ailment that affects kids, most times between the ages of 8 and 14. With kids becoming more active year round in athletic activities, heel pain is becoming more common.

“I commonly see kids who go from one sport to the next, 12 months out of the year,” Smesko states. “Most heel pain is due to Sever’s disease, which is also called Calcaneal Apophysitis.

“As kids get bigger and more active, they put more stress and strain on their bodies. It is common for the growth plate of the heel to become sore and inflamed.”

The growth plate in the back of the heel attaches to the Achilles tendon as well as to the plantar fascial ligament. Tight calf muscles and overuse result in pain.

“The treatment for this consists of activity modifications, stretching exercises and support for the foot,” says Dr. Smesko. “Orthotics are commonly used as well as physical therapy in some instances. In severe cases, the child may need to stop playing sports and other activities for several weeks to calm down the pain.”

While most kids are active and healthy, certain foot issues will not get better on their own. If your child has any of these problems, please contact one of our offices to make an appointment.

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