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Podopaediatrics is a specialist area of Podiatry that treats:
- Foot & lower limb pain
- Structural alignment problems
- Gait disorders
A child’s feet are the foundation of their body. A complex network of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves & blood vessels must work together to enable efficient & pain free transfer of body weight over the feet.
If any of the structures in this rapidly growing network are out of balance, the impact can be felt throughout the entire body. If left untreated in the growing child, foot & leg problems can cause years of avoidable pain & lost activity. This can have long term impacts on the physical activity levels & therefore overall health & wellbeing of your child long beyond the school years.
The development of a healthy gait & posture requires good input from the visual, vestibular & proprioceptive systems.
Poor foot mechanics (such as in Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, flat feet, in-toeing, tip-toeing) can affect the proprioceptive information the brain receives via the feet. This affects muscle activity patterns and can lead to postural & gait adaptations. If left, these can cause lifelong musculoskeletal problems.
Vital stages in gross motor skill & gait development occur before the age of 8. Early assessment is therefore essential. Intervening early, while bones are still rapidly growing, offers the best opportunity to make lasting improvements to a child’s foot & leg health.
Should my child see a Children’s Podiatrist?
- Any complaint of foot or lower limb pain
- Delayed onset of walking
- Poor balance/ clumsiness/ co-ordination
- Flat feet
- Gait disorders (in-toeing/ out-toeing/ tip-toeing)
- Difficulty keeping up with peers
- Alignment disorders (Metatarsus Adductus, Junvenile HAV)
- Trips frequently/ asks to be carried/ wants legs massaged
- ‘Growing pains’/ aching feet or legs*
- Joint hypermobility
- Heel pain (‘Sever’s’)
- Hypermobile flat foot
- Osgood-Schlatters (activity dependent knee pain)
- Juvenile HAV (Bunions)
- Clawed/ over-riding toes
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Achilles pain/ tight calves/ hamstrings
- Ingrown toenails
- Sprained ankles
- Tarsal coalitions
Growing should not be painful.
All pain reported by children should be treated seriously & promptly investigated. Studies have shown the average time between children reporting joint & leg pain & seeking appropriate treatment is 2 years (Paediatric Rheumatologist, Dr Navid Adib). Dealing with chronic (more than 3 months) pain can have a lasting psychological impact on children so early assessment is vital.
Pain may be due to a musculoskeletal imbalance such as poor foot mechanics. Other causes include unsuitable activity for body type, excessive training in the growing athlete, inappropriate school bag wear, poor footwear or compensatory postures such as sitting in certain positions to watch TV or play computer games.
Footwear advice & orthotics can address biomechanical imbalance of the lower limb to resolve pain & improve function.
As important gross motor skills milestones & postural control patterns are largely formed before the age of 8, early identification of gait disorders & faulty mechanics is essential.