It can be difficult to know when a young child is experiencing foot pain, but if your baby's or toddler's feet don't look like other children's feet, or they are reluctant to walk, they might have a foot disorder that needs to be assessed by a podiatrist. When it comes to foot-related problems, early intervention by an expert is the key to proper treatment.
Flat Feet Are Common in Children
Flat feet, a general term for the appearance of a foot without a well-developed arch, is a common condition experienced by children. While most children with flat feet have no symptoms, others may exhibit cramping, pain, or tenderness in the foot, lower leg, or knee; limping or an aversion to athletic activities; and refusing to walk because their feet and legs "are tired." Foot and ankle surgeons can help determine if a child's pain is related to flat feet.
When children have these symptoms, parents may think they are experiencing temporary "growing pains," without realizing it could be a foot-related problem. A foot and ankle surgeon will conduct a physical examination to assess the structure and function of the feet and may choose to use imaging studies, like X-ray or MRI, for a more comprehensive understanding of the child's specific foot structure.
Early Intervention Is Key
Although children with flat feet may not have pain or limitation of activity, others experience symptoms related to structural abnormalities of the foot that can be difficult to diagnose. Appropriate care includes the use of orthotic supports or possibly surgery, depending on the condition and its severity. Early evaluation and intervention are the best measures for determining whether treatment is necessary to ensure a quick recovery and return to normal activity.