Foot Pain in Children
Foot pain in children is not uncommon and it can be the result of a variety of injuries or conditions. Sometimes the foot pain can be mild and sometimes it can be so bad that the child has difficulty walking. Below are some of the most common causes of foot pain and discomfort for children.
Sever’s Disease (Calcaneal Apophysitis):
Sever's Disease is a bone injury caused by repetitive, small traumas that usually occurs in children between the ages of 8 and 15 who participate in sports. Because the injury is to the growth plate on the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon attaches, the child will mostly complain of heel pain and may even walk with a limp, especially after a period of activity such as a sports game. Treatment for Sever’s disease will typically require some time away from high impact activities, such as running or jumping, and using cold compresses to keep the inflammation down. Sometimes physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the muscles and tendons.
Even during normal play, falls can happen. Usually they are nothing to worry about but if a fall is followed by pain, swelling, bruising, or the inability to walk, your child may be suffering from a fracture. There are a lot of small bones in the foot so minor fractures may even go unnoticed at first. Most fractures heal well with rest, ice, elevation, and in some cases, a cast. If you suspect a fracture it is important to contact your doctor immediately so that the injury can be evaluated and treated. Sometimes what you think is a fracture could actually be a break or a muscle strain and the treatments will follow a different course.
The condition called flatfoot, or most commonly the variation flexible flatfoot, is different from having flat feet as an adult. To have flat feet is to suffer from some level of arch collapse, usually due to exterior conditions such as obesity or standing for long hours on a regular basis. Flexible flatfoot, observed in children that can bring the condition into adulthood, refers to a deformity of the foot where the heel tilts toward the outside and the arch of the foot is low or nonexistent. Specific to flexible flatfoot, the arch may appear normal when the foot is off the ground or not bearing weight, but the foot appears flat while the person is standing. Also, flatfoot is commonly seen in both feet at the same time as opposed to one foot and not the other. Depending on the severity of the deformity this may be obvious in a young child and may be observed during a routine wellness check. Other cases are recognized when the child has difficulty when they are learning to walk or if the child is complaining of pain in the feet, shin, hip or back (along the kinetic chain). This condition can be treated, often with shoe inserts, orthotics for the feet and sometimes for the ankles, shoe alterations, physical therapy and, in the most extreme cases, surgery.
While some pains your child experiences may be minor and will resolve on their own, persistent pain should not be ignored. A doctor will be able to properly diagnose the condition and if there is one present and describe treatment options for your child.