Does your child have foot pain?
As parents, we all want the best for our children. Nothing is more concerning than our children in pain. Foot pain is not normal in children. Pain is a warning sign that tissue damage has occurred or is about to occur. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong!
So, if your child is suffering with foot pain please don’t ignore it, seek professional help.
The child’s foot is not just a small-scale version of an adult foot. Children’s feet change shape and function with growth and development until growth ceases in their late teens.
Many childhood problems are hereditary in nature. This means many foot problems tend to run in families. The growth period is an important time for examining, diagnosing, correcting and preventing developmental and structural problems of the foot and leg. This helps to ensure our kids start off life on the right foot.
Common Foot Problems in Children:
- Heel Pain / Sever’s Condition
- Growing pains
- Unusual shaped feet or toes
- Painful feet or ankles
- Flat feet
- In-toeing or out-toeing
- and more….
Sever’s Condition (Calcaneal apophysitis)
Sever’s Condition is the most common cause of heel pain in children. Sever’s Disease is a painful inflammatory response of the attachment of the Achilles Tendon at the growth plate of the heel. It typically affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. This growth plate is made of cartilage (not yet turned to bone) making it at risk of excessive strain.
What causes Sever’s Disease?
The active lifestyle of a child and the demands of sport can place excessive repetitive stress on the back of the heel (growth plate). This repetitive pulling and strain can lead to inflammation and pain in the heel.
Tight calves, poor footwear and an increase in sport participation can make this condition worse.
Common symptoms associated with Sever’s Disease include:
- gradual increase in heel pain over prolonged period
- pain increases in the heel area when playing sport
- pain is worse barefoot, and particularly bad in the morning.
- sore to squeeze the region
How can we help Sever’s Condition?
The key to reducing the pain is reducing the load on the heel growth plate. Our practitioner’s will give guidance on immediate relief of pain tips. Simple tasks like icing and stretching can help release the tightness around the heel area. We will also advise on suitable footwear for your child.
It is also important to assess the bio-mechanics of the foot to ensure the foot is functioning properly. Stretching, strengthening and specialised manual therapy techniques (Foot Mobilisation Therapy) can help improve foot function. Additionally, heel raises and shoe inserts (orthotic) can be used to reduce the pulling effect of the Achilles tendon. This is especially beneficial if the feet are excessively flexible and unstable.
When the strain to the heel bone growth plate is reduced the body can repair the damaged tissue and the inflammation (pain) can settle.
Does your child have achy legs that keep them awake at night? He or she may have growing pains.
Growing pains can feel like cramping, achy, muscle pains in the legs. The pain often occurs in the late afternoon or evenings. Often they cause your child to wake up in the middle of the night.
Causes of Growing Pains
It is thought that growing pains are caused by growing too much or too quickly. However, there is no firm evidence that growing pains are linked to growth spurts. Growing pains can also be the result of excessive physical activity with activities like running, jumping, and climbing. Pain can be felt as the physically fatigued muscles start to recover. This often occurs when resting at night. Poor foot and leg alignment can increase the risk of over working of the muscles and growing pains.
Management can involve stretching and strengthening the appropriate muscles. It is also important to look at the total physical activity load that your child is undertaking. In addition, any mechanical and alignment problems need to be considered and addressed where relevant to reduce the load on the leg muscles.
Having flat feet is a normal part of the development process in children. Most children will go through a stage of ‘flat-feet’ in the pre-school years. Many children with on-going flat feet have no symptoms. Having flat feet is a normal variation in foot function. The concern with flat feet is when the bio-mechanics of the foot and leg are causing symptoms, pain and dysfunction.
If you are worried about your child’s flat feet or you have observed an awkward walking or running style, or your child is complaining of pain or cramping, you should seek professional help to diagnose and treat the source of pain.
Preventing Problems in Adulthood
At the Foot & Leg Centre, we believe in trying to prevent foot problems wherever possible. In many cases, foot problems in adulthood can often be reduced or even prevented through early intervention in childhood.
Conditions like bunions, curling toes, hammer toes flat feet are common foot problems we see. These conditions can be passed down from generation to generation via our genetics. So, if you have foot problems the best advice is to get your kids feet checked early in life. Many foot issues we see can be well managed with early intervention.