Here’s a scary scenario: you warned your daughter about the construction site next door, but she goes anyway and steps on a nail. She’s afraid to tell you, so you don’t find out until you see blood on her sock when she takes off her shoes later. Should you call us and have her seen? Yes! Puncture wounds can be serious and we need to make sure she’s up-to-date on her shots. Unfortunately, not all children’s foot problems are that cut and dried. How do you tell when your child needs foot care? Let’s take this issue in easy stages.
Infants and Babes-in-Arms
A pediatrician usually checks the newborn while still in the delivery room for any obvious health issues, including those in feet. This is often when problems like clubfoot are discovered, and treatment with casting is usually begun in the first week or two to avoid serious surgery.
Other than that, you spend the most time with the baby and will likely be the first to notice any issues, like a foot that turns out or in or feels cold. You can keep baby’s feet warm with loose booties or socks that won’t restrict movement, but call us if you have concerns about curved legs or feet, or other abnormalities you see. Remember: your baby’s bones are still undeveloped; any problems are usually not painful and often will resolve on their own.
Toddlers on the Go
Once your child begins to stand and walk, you may notice in-toeing, out-toeing, walking on tiptoe, or flat feet. We will gladly check your child, but once again, most of these issues do not require treatment. On the other hand, toddlers might just accept or tolerate a painful condition without saying anything, so you need to monitor them for fussiness and unusual behavior.
How do you decide if toddlers need to be seen? If they don’t like standing and always want to be carried, you may want to bring them in for a checkup just to see that everything is developing normally. Children walk at different ages, but sometimes nerve or muscle disorders occur that need evaluation and treatment. Watch also for redness or rashes, signs of infections by the nails, or toes that curl under instead of lying flat.
School-age Kids and Shoes
Once your child starts school and plays outside other problems can crop up, and they might not always tell you about them. Ingrown toenails from shoes that are too tight, cuts and bruises, and flat feet that are rigid and painful may be an issue.
Shoe choice is very important at this stage when feet are growing so rapidly. Footwear should be about a half inch longer than their longest toes, and wide and tall enough in the toes to let them move about freely inside and lie straight. Socks should have enough room as well.
Watch for infections like athlete’s foot, blisters, plantar warts, or any other suspicious bumps or lumps. If your youngster hangs back from favorite activities, or trips and falls a lot, or has painful, rigid flat feet, a visit to our office is in order.
Tweens, Teens and Sports Injuries
With adolescence, you’ve entered a whole new era of children’s foot care. Girls begin to wear fashionable shoes that can exacerbate juvenile bunions and led to knee, hip, and back problems.
Boys and girls alike may also begin experiencing calcaneal apophysitis—heel pain caused by differing growth rates between tendon and heel bone. We can give you several pointers for addressing the symptoms until the bones mature.
Sports also become important at this age. We don’t need to tell you that common injuries like sprains, stress fractures, and any serious foot pain should definitely be evaluated at our office. Your child may want to tough it out because they don’t want to miss playing, but you need to make sure they heal properly to avoid long term issues in the future.
Children’s Foot Care in the Greater Phoenix Area
When you want the best care for your kids’ feet, Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona is the place to go. We can help you determine whether your children’s foot problems are serious and require treatment, and our caring attitude will put them at ease. Call our Chandler office today at (480) 963-9000 or reach us in Gilbert at (480) 981-1800.