Foot doctors, or podiatrists, see many children each year because of parental concerns. Being familiar with common foot problems children face can help you decide if your child needs to see a foot doctor.
When a child is pigeon toed, he walks with his toes turned in toward one another. This is a common occurence in toddlers as they begin to stand and walk. The first signs of pigeon toes, or toeing in as it is also called, are often continual tripping and clumsiness. Depending on the cause and severity, this may not require treatment or may be treated with stretching and exercises, casts, braces or surgery. There are three main causes of pigeon toes, metatarsus adductus, internal tibial torsion and excessive femoral anteversion.
Metatarsus adductus is an actual curving inward of a child’s feet. It is thought to occur due to the positioning of the baby in the uterus before birth. This curving of the feet normally corrects itself as a child grows. Casts or braces on the feet can help correct this problem.
Internal tibial torsion is the twisting of the tibia, which is the long bone between the knee and ankle. The tibia normally straightens out before the child’s first birthday, but occasionally does not straighten until the child is 6 to 8 years old. Internal tibial torsion cannot be effectively treated with braces and special shoes and is usually allowed to correct itself as the child grows. In extreme cases, a foot doctor and orthopedist can perform a surgery to straighten out the tibia.
Excessive femoral anteversion is when the femur, or bone between the hip and knee, twists inward. Although this can be present at birth, it is normally not noticed until after the child starts walking and the ligaments and muscles around the thighs loosen. As these ligaments and muscles loosen, the femurs turn inward more and the child will walk pigeon toed. Most of the time excessive femoral anteversion corrects itself as the child grows. In severe cases, a surgeon can perform a surgery to correct the twisting of the femur.
Most babies are born flat footed. In most children arches develop in the feet as the child grows but some children never develop arches. A common concern with flat feet is clumsiness. Treatment is usually not necessary unless foot pain develops. Some foot doctors recommend putting arch supports in a child’s shoes if he is experiencing foot pain.
The majority of children walk on their toes when they first begin to walk, but if this is still happening at age 2, they should be evaluated by their doctor to rule out other problems. A child who walks on his toes and does not have another underlying condition may wear casts for several weeks to lengthen the calf muscles. The majority of foot problems can be easily diagnosed by a foot doctor and will most likely resolve on their own. If you feel your child has a problem, visit a podiatrist for more information and treatment options