Everyone knows that babies have very fragile body organs. While they already have complete set of organs, these are not yet fully matured so as to effectively survive the rigours of stress. Children’s feet are particularly special because these are primarily composed of very small bones that are still growing and calcifying. Additionally, their ability to control their movements can make them pretty vulnerable to a variety of childhood feet problems. And whenever feet and lower limb issues are concerned, a podiatrist will always be called in. Take note that, even the simplest problem should be given serious attention.
Podiatrists are medical doctors who have specialized in the care of the feet. In the US, the orthopaedic surgeon can also provide feet and lower limb care. However, since orthopaedic surgeons do not specialize on bones of the feet alone but rather bones of the whole body, the best person for a foot job is a doctor of podiatric medicine – the podiatrist.
The feet of babies and young children are very fragile. There is a My Podiatrist FB page that presents a fair discussion on why children’s feet should be treated with utmost care. Podiatrists are particularly competent when it comes to the management of a variety of foot problems for young children.
There are instances when the baby’s foot appears twisted out of its normal position or shape. This congenital anomaly is often the result of a shorter-than-usual tendon making the feet look like a golf club; hence, the word clubfoot.
The most common form of treatment is known as the Ponseti method where the baby’s foot is carefully repositioned then a cast is placed around it to keep it in its place. Repositioning and recasting of the baby’s foot is usually done on a once or twice weekly basis for several months often culminating in percutaneous Achilles tenotomy. The parents of the baby will be taught on how to exercise the foot as well as how to use specially-designed shoes and foot braces. The Ponseti method is something that the podiatrist can perform with absolute precision.
Clubfoot can also be treated with surgery or using the physiotherapy approach of stretching and taping, otherwise known as the French Method.
Young children who are learning to walk tend to walk on their toes. It is a normal occurrence. However, if the child has already reached 3 years of age and he is still toe walking, it may be a sign of a much bigger problem. It may be an indication of a habit formed or an outcome of muscular dystrophy or even cerebral palsy. Podiatrists can help young children with toe walking issues by crafting a specially-made leg brace or splint to promote the child’s normal gait. If this does not help, the podiatrist can provide below-the-knee casts in order to improve the child’s ability to bring his toes toward his shin in a progressive manner.
Known as genu varum, bowed legs are considered normal among growing children especially those who have not yet learned to walk. However, if the condition persists well over 18 months, it is often the result of abnormal bone development or even rickets as well as other diseases or conditions that affect the bones. Here, the podiatrist can help by crafting specially-made shoes, casts, or braces in order to maintain a more stable gait and posture.
Intoeing, or pigeon toes, is characterized by the baby’s toes pointing inward while walking and is considered normal among young children below 2 years old. It can be brought about by excessive anteversion, a twisted shin bone, or the more common muscle weakness. Either way, corrective shoes as well as specially-designed casts for the lower legs and feet can be developed by the podiatrist to help the child walk normally and prevent the development of clubfoot.
The opposite of pigeon toes, out-toeing has the toes pointing outward and is often the result of twisting or slight rotation of the tibia or femur. And just like pigeon toes, the podiatrist can help correct the abnormality through the use of specialty shoes, braces, or even casts.
Other Feet and Mobility Concerns
Podiatrists can also help with other childhood feet problems such as knock knees, growing pains, and ingrown toenails. The method of treatment often involves the design and creation of orthotic devices that will help correct the problem.
Caring for your baby’s feet is essential in helping him maximize his full growth potential. Being well-versed with the different developmental patterns of young children is important in determining whether an abnormality is present or not. Nonetheless, a podiatrist is always available to provide your baby with the kind of tender loving care his feet and legs need.