Problems with feet and ankles don’t necessarily cause pain in childhood. It often takes a lifetime of stress for problems to come to the fore, by which time it may be too late for effective treatment. That is why it is important to identify foot and ankle problems in early childhood.
As the feet grow and we clock up more hours standing, walking, and running, the slightest problem can become exacerbated. As podiatrists, we often hear our older patients say that they never had problems with their feet before. In reality, however, it is usually a case of not having noticed there was a problem.
Foot and ankle surgeons are in a unique position of having seen the effects of degenerative foot and ankle problems up close and personal. One list, from The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, is particularly useful for identifying early signs of foot and ankle problems.
Falling Behind in Sports
Not all kids are going to become an athlete; that’s just the nature of life. Even still, it is important to understand that the problem isn’t always one of aptitude. Tiring easily during sporting events can be an indication of poor function.
Because the child’s feet and legs are being forced to work harder, they simply cannot keep up with their peers. This is most commonly a sign of flat feet. With the feet and leg muscles under additional strain, walking and running result in the child becoming fatigued much faster.
Lack of Enthusiasm for Activities
Sometimes children lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, and there are a number of possible reasons. Perhaps the child has simply grown out of the activity, but it is important to establish whether there is a health related issue at play.
Many children suffer from heel pain, which is caused by repetitive strain. The result of repetitive strain is an inflamed growth plate. This area is weaker in children as they grow, making them more susceptible to this type of injury. As pain and discomfort are reduced through participating less in activities, it is an option that is worth exploring.
Fear of Medical Treatments
Because the feet are covered most of the time, it is extremely easy for children to hide problems from their parents. Children hide problems with their feet for a number of reasons, but chief amongst them is a fear of undergoing medical procedures.
As a parent, it may be therefore necessary to check your children’s feet for any abnormalities or pain. Key areas include growths, swelling, discoloration, ingrown toenails, or hammer toes. If you create a culture of early prevention, it is much easier to assure your child that any medical intervention is necessary and beneficial.
Tripping and Falling
All children will trip or fall occasionally as they find their feet. A child who frequently falls or stumbles, however, may be suffering from problems with the feet or balance. Tripping, falling or clumsiness is also a possible early warning of neuromuscular conditions.
The child may not experience any pain, besides that which results directly from the trip or fall. Lack of pain or discomfort does not rule out a problem. It is better to err on the side of caution and have your child’s feet and legs checked by a podiatrist.
Foot, ankle, or leg pain
As parents, there is a fine balance between taking necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our children and fear of overreacting. To put your mind at rest; foot, ankle, and leg pain is not simply a part of growing up.
If your child is complaining of pain, your podiatrist will not fault you for bringing them in for a check-up. At Step By Step, we encourage our families to have frequent health checks to head off any problems before they have a chance to progress.
If you are concerned about your children’s feet and ankles, contact Step By Step today. We are committed to advancing great foot health for families of all sizes.