Kids go through a lot of changes as they grow - as do their feet and legs. As parents, it can be confusing to discern between whether what
we’re seeing is normal, or whether it could be a warning sign that should be checked by a podiatrist. Being parents ourselves, we
absolutely get it - we want our kids to grow healthy and strong, and we don’t want to miss any warning signs that they may need
further help and support to prevent them from being held back by pain or discomfort in the future.
To help, here are a few common observations often raised to us by parents, what they mean, and if it may indicate that it could be time to book in for a kid’s foot and leg health check with your podiatrist.
Growing pains occur when growth plates, the vulnerable areas to which new bone is added so that our bones grow and lengthen, become irritated or inflamed. We often see this pain at the back of the heel, the outside of the foot, or at the knees. While there’s a common misconception that growing pains are inevitable, or that there’s nothing to do but wait them out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Growing pains are very treatable - and something that our Brisbane clinics are very experienced in. Growing pains definitely warrant a visit to your podiatrist.
In children under the age of five years, having flat feet is normal, and not a cause for concern. At this age children’s foot muscles are still developing, their fat pads are more prominent, and the feet are still very flexible. From the age of five onwards, arches start to develop, albeit at different rates. Some children may have arches by age six, while others may develop them closer to age twelve., While we don’t consider the presence of flat feet alone to be a specific problem, having flat feet paired with symptoms like pain, regular tripping or falling, or balance issues, is something that warrants a visit to the podiatrist. Your podiatrist will also discuss the future risks that flat feet can pose, and how to best manage these risks, even starting from an early age.
In-toeing is a common observation in young children that are in the first years of walking. There are several possible causes of in-toeing with different signs and different ages and stages that the in-toeing may resolve. These include:
Knock knees describes a leg and knee position where the knees can touch or rub against one another when walking, but the ankles do not touch. Knock knees are actually a normal alignment variation in the early years, particularly around 3 years of age. This should resolve by the age of 7 years. If knock knees persist beyond the age of 7, or if they’re causing pain or problems like causing your child to trip when running, bring them in to see a podiatrist.
“W sitting” means the seated position where the child’s buttocks are on the floor and their legs move out like a W around them (pictured). While this position is not indicative of a disease or condition, it can place stress on the hip and knee joints as they are rotated inwards, and may contribute to muscle tightness and pain. You don’t need to see a podiatrist for this one unless it’s accompanied by other pains or problems, but we do highly recommend encouraging your child to sit cross-legged
While kids are often thought of as being adventurous and ‘risk-takers’, regular tripping and falling is not normal - and can lead to various other injuries like sprains or fractures. If your child is regularly tripping or falling, it is worthwhile to have their muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, bony alignment and overall gait assessed by a podiatrist. Here, your podiatrist will be able to offer insight as to why the tripping or falling is occurring, and what can be done to help.
Much like tripping and falling, if you notice your child’s balance or coordination is ‘off’, or there is any notable muscle weakness that may be causing a problem like a foot drop, always have them checked by a podiatrist. There may be something going on that we can help with, in a range of ways, from a strengthening program to an orthotic to a custom brace that supports your child’s movement and comfort.
If you notice redness, lumps or bumps on your child’s feet, it’s not uncommon to think that it’s something that’ll go away on its own. Unfortunately, things like warts on the feet can take a long time to resolve on their own and if located underneath the joints, can cause significant pain and discomfort, interfering with your child’s daily life. If the bumps are from corns, these can continue to grow and worsen without treatment. Additionally, your podiatrist can make recommendations or how to keep them gone for good. Other causes of redness may be from rubbing from footwear. In these cases, we recommend checking your child’s shoe size is still accurate - a survey of over 1,000 Australian parents revealed that two out of three children were wearing the wrong shoe size - with one in five children wearing shoes that were two sizes too small. This can cause redness, blistering, corns and more.
Finally, if your child experiences any foot or leg pain, bring them in to see a podiatrist. Pain never happens for no reason - it is a sign that something is going wrong, or is about to. Getting kids seen early will allow us to identify any problem before it worsens and becomes more difficult to treat. We take foot and leg pain very seriously and go above and beyond to help every parent and child get the best care not only for now, but also for the years to come.
Book an appointment with our podiatry team online here or call us on 1300 993 338.