Is your child complaining of foot pain? How can you know if this discomfort is simply the result of a growth spurt or if there is an underlying issue that warrants professional attention? In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the most common causes of foot pain in children, and we share some of the best ways to prevent and treat pediatric foot issues.
Foot Pain In Children
While foot pain in adults is typically the result of degenerative changes or natural muscle weakening that can occur as we get older, pediatric foot problems tend to develop for different reasons. Here’s a closer look at five of the most common foot problems that cause pain in a pediatric population:
- Ingrown Toenails - Ingrown toenails are a common issue for kids because of their mechanism of onset. In most instances, ingrown toenails are the result of shoes that are too tight. If children are wearing hand-me-downs that are too tight, or parents don’t realize that their child needs a bigger pair of shoes, these tight footwear choices can impact toenail growth and lead to the formation of an ingrown toenail.
- Growing Pains - As we alluded to in the intro, growth spurts and growing pains are pretty common for children and teens. Their foot may be more prone to mild soreness and muscle cramping when they are going through a period of rapid growth, but oftentimes this discomfort fades after a few days or a week. If this discomfort remains consistent, there could be more at play, and you’d benefit from a consultation with a foot specialist.
- Sever’s Disease - Sever’s disease is a condition that involves damage to the growth plate located on the back of your heel. This tends to develop in children between the ages of 8-14 because of how the bone develops. It’s also more common in active children who put a lot of stress on their feet. We’re not saying that you should discourage activity, but if your child is complaining about heel pain after the soccer season, it could be the result of inflammation or a strain of this growth plate. Rest, anti-inflammatories, and a stretching or physical therapy program can help to calm this inflammation and the symptoms it’s causing.
- Juvenile Bunions - Bunions are more common in an adult population, but they can also develop in children who suffer foot injuries or wear improperly fitting shoes. This can cause a shift in how the big toe joint forms, leading to the formation of a bony prominence on the outside of your foot at the joint. Early intervention can help calm symptoms, but if left untreated for too long, a minimally invasive operation may be recommended.
- Shin Splints - A final condition that we commonly see in both adults and children is shin splints. Shin splints are the result of inflammation and microtearing in the shinbone (tibia) or the nearby muscles. The condition is most common in young athletes that are overactive or in people who greatly increase their activity levels in a short period of time. Again, we don’t want to discourage activity in children, but if they are specializing in one sport at a young age or not getting much recovery time between sports and activities, shin splints can develop, causing discomfort with each step. Rest and anti-inflammatory medications oftentimes help to calm inflammation that’s causing shin splints.
If your child is complaining about foot pain, it could just be the result of normal growing pains, but don’t just assume that’s the case. Ask them about their discomfort and keep an eye on how they're moving to look for signs of pain or discomfort. If symptoms persist, help them put an end to their issues by connecting with a foot specialist. For more information, or for help with a pediatric or adult foot issue, reach out to the team at The Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics today at (703) 584-2040.