Solve Your Child’s Foot Problems Today!
June 04, 2016
By John M. Sigle DPM, FACFAS
It’s funny how things have a way of coming full circle in life. During
the early seventies, Sesame Street was a cornerstone of my childhood.
Now, after of 41/2 years of parenthood, the show still captures my
attention and it helps me explain the world we live in. The creators of
the show have proven that the combination of entertainment and learning
can create an enjoyable and meaningful experience.
Although there are thousands of episodes and characters, I am sure
everyone has their favorites. I am partial to episodes that deal with
Elmo’s World on the Feet Channel, “the channel that keeps you on your
toes.” My favorite episode is a “feet-ture” film of the “Girl Who Loved
Her Feet!” In the opening scene, a young blond teenager climbs to the
top of a little green hill in her bare feet and says,” I love my feet!”
Then, she bends from the waist down and kisses her big toes. This girl
does everything with her feet; and goes everywhere with them. She runs
down hills, goes for long walks, plays at beach, waddles in the mud,
jumps rope, and goes dancing. When she goes to bed at night, she even
kisses her toes and her dog Tootsie licks them. OMG!
I hope that all young girls love their feet, maybe not in the same way
as the Sesame Street character, but in a way that avoids embarrassment
and fear of seeing a doctor. It is also my hope that the parents pay
close attention to their children’s feet and seek medical attention if
they recognize a problem. Here are some of the warning signs that
parents should look for:
- When your child starts to cover his/her feet and does not expose
them to you for fear of having to go to the doctor. This often happens
if they feel pain or if there is a change in the appearance of their
nails or feet like toenail fungus, ingrown toenails, or warts.
- When your child falls or trips more than usual this may be a sign of a neuromuscular or balance problem or an in-toeing problem.
- When your child is less willing to participate in a physical
activity that he/she usually likes. This may be caused by heel pain or
muscle strain or swelling in the back of the heel where the growth plate
- When your child lags behind other playmates because his/her legs
and feet are tired. Muscle fatigue can occur if your child’s feet do
not function properly. Flat feet are a common cause.
- When your child tells you his feet or ankles hurt or complain of pain and soreness. Foot pain is never normal.
Ingrown toenails and plantar warts are the most common problems for a
child. Ingrown toenails usually occur because of improper nail cutting
and if shoes are too tight or small. The child tries to tolerate the
discomfort as long as he/she can; however, if the site becomes infected,
seek medical attention. Simple in-office procedures can be performed to
provide immediate relief and promote healing.
Plantar warts are caused by a virus that can develop anywhere on the
foot. They are a common occurrence in children and adolescents.
Over-the-counter medications can be used but your podiatrist will have
other more effective remedies like acid treatment to the affected site
or laser treatment that will allow your child to return to normal
Other mechanical problems like in-toeing, out-toeing, and toe walk, are
easy to notice but should be addressed by your podiatrist to avoid
future problems that could also have a negative effect of other body
parts if left untreated. In many cases, custom orthotics can be
successful to treat these problems.
Athletic injuries like sprains, shin splints, and fractures can be more
serious and must be treated immediately to ensure that the ligaments
heal properly in a stable position.
A more serious problem that can develop in the pre-teen years is Sever’s
disease. This is a condition that causes pain in the back of the heel
that is caused by tension on the growth plate of the heel. Growing
children are more prone to stress fractures because the bones are
immature and not fully developed.
Other problems that typically occur during adulthood can also occur
during childhood. These include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis,
and stress fractures. These conditions are fairly typical among youths
who participate in rigorous sports like soccer, football, tennis,
running, or activities like dance, cheerleading, and martial arts.
Again, the faster you seek medical attention the better it will be for
recovery and speed their ability to return to sport.
Other medical conditions like cerebral palsy, polio, club foot, multiple
sclerosis, epidermolysis bullosa, and muscular dystrophy may lead to
foot deformities. Your podiatrist can recommend several shoe brands for
children who have special foot care needs.
Sometimes, a foot or ankle problem is not easy to detect in a child
because they are not able to articulate how they feel or what is
bothering them. As a parent, it is important to inspect your child’s
feet regularly and to observe any of these warning signs. Visit
myfootandanklecenter.com for more information on foot care for your
child. Each month, the website posts a fun art project for you to do
with your child to raise their awareness of their feet and to promote
For further information or to schedule an appointment, contact the
Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700. The Foot &
Ankle Center of Illinois is located in four convenient locations in
Springfield, Decatur, Shelbyville, and Carlinville. Visit the patient
library at www.myfootandanklecenter.com to review the literature on foot care for your entire family.
Photo courtesy of Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois
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