Sunday, 21 May 2017

Foot Conditions of Children: 5 Things You Should Know

Due to intense physical activities, it’s common for children to suffer from ankle and foot problems. Yet, thanks to their resilience, you may often miss the signs and symptoms of such foot conditions. This makes it important to keep a close eye on your child's foot health.

Do consult with a podiatrist if you notice anything unusual such as a decrease in your child’s physical activity, limping, pain in foot, or lack of desire to play outdoors, among others. Listed below are five things you should know about foot conditions of children.

1. When are foot conditions likely to develop in children?

Foot conditions and injuries can affect children of any age any time. However, they are most likely to develop in children involved in different, intense sport activities, or those who are extremely active physically.

Children playing on club teams (that make increasing demands on them to play often, especially on hard surfaces like indoor turfs, facilities etc.) or participating in multiple sports tend to experience foot problems more often due to overuse or injury.

2. Common foot problems in children

Children can suffer often from the following foot conditions:

  • Flatfoot (where the foot lacks an arch)
  • Sever’s disease (inflammation of the growth plate of heels)
  • Clubfoot (a congenital defect that makes the foot twisted out of its normal shape or position)
  • Growth plate injuries (caused by foot or ankle sprains and breaks that damage the growth plate, deforming either the bone’s position or interfering with bone growth)  
  • Bunions (painful bumps at the base of the big toe)

3. Common treatments

Initial treatment for foot conditions, injuries and pain include rest, anti-inflammatory medications and custom-made orthotics. In case such conservative treatments do not alleviate the symptoms, the foot doctor may recommend invasive treatments like surgery, after considering the child’s age and the severity of the condition.

4. Treatment of foot problems: children v. adults

Children are often more mobile, heal faster and experience lesser pain than that adults experience. Even when the treatment involves surgery, children have a better chance of healing faster and returning to their normal level of physical activity quicker than adults do. However, the young age of children can work in their favor only when they take timely treatment without worsening the conditions due to ignorance, carelessness or needless delay.

The foot doctor has to play an important role while treating children: the affected and possibly much frightened child should feel relaxed, become convinced of the need for the treatment and understand clearly how it will help cure the pain and discomfort.  

5. Long-term effects of ignoring foot conditions of children

Some foot conditions correct themselves and demand no treatment, as the child grows: bowleg or ‘in-toeing’ is common and does not require any medical attention. Yet, it would be best if you consult with a reputed podiatrist for a correct diagnosis of the condition.

You should know if it requires careful monitoring, proper treatment or nothing. Else, an injury or foot problem might lead to muscle weakness, pain, joint arthritis, undue stress and overload on the foot/ankle, deformity, inactivity, mental frustration or other avoidable complications.

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