Having strong, healthy feet allows your child to walk, run and play. If your child’s feet form correctly, certain types of back and leg pain can be avoided later in life. An examination of the lower extremity insures that your child is growing correctly. Your podiatrist can also make sure that your child is walking correctly. This helps prevent some future foot problems, and if a problem does arise, it can be handled early when it is easier to treat.
Your toddler will walk when he or she is ready. Try not to force the issue. Instead, watch your child’s gait once he or she does begin to walk. Does the toe touch down instead of the heel? Does your child always sit while others play actively? Does your child walk in-toed, flat-footed or bow legged? If so consult your podiatrist.
During a foot examination, your podiatrist will watch your toddler walk. If a gait problem exists, your podiatrist works to identify its cause. To help with flat feet, special shoes or custom made shoe inserts may be prescribed. To correct mild toeing-in, your toddler may need to sit in a different position while playing or watching TV. If your child’s feet turn in or out, corrective shoes, splints or night braces may be prescribed. Wearing these devices can help the foot as it grows.
The foot’s bone structure is well-formed by the time your child reaches age 7 or 8, but if a growth plate (the area where bone growth begins) is injured, the damaged plate may cause the bone to grow oddly. With a podiatrist’ care, however, the risk of future bone problems is reduced.
If an injury is mild, your child probably will not remember it for very long. If your child keeps complaining of pain, have the injury checked by a podiatrist. Also, call your physician anytime an injury causes serious swelling, localised tenderness, limping or ongoing night pain.