When people have babies, they’re always warned about the “soft spot” on the head – that the skull bones haven’t fused enough to adequately cover the brain.
It’s such a well-known fact, most people don’t give it a second thought. But in reality, babies are born with nearly 100 bones that need to close and grow to create bones and joints.
Some of those bones are in the feet, and they make up your foot arch. Most people don’t realize it, but arches don’t develop until around the age of 6, after walking, standing and other activities have strengthened the bones and cartilage.
Before that, babies and toddlers have a stage of development called flexible flat feet. This is characterized by the presence of arches when children are sitting or standing on their toes, but the arch disappears when they put weight on their feet.
Flexible flat feet are normal, and for 80-90 percent of children, they’re temporary. However, for a smaller portion of the population, arches never develop, which is a condition called pediatric flat feet.
Quality of life
Some children with flat feet are able to accommodate their condition quite well. These cases – called asymptomatic flat feet – will likely never require treatment.
However, if children develop pain, tenderness or cramping in the feet, legs and knees, or if they find difficulty walking, wearing shoes or participating in activities, they likely have symptomatic flat feet. In these cases, medical advice and treatment should be sought.
The Podiatrist is well-versed in the bones and structure of children’s feet, and knows best how arches should develop and function.
When you first have an appointment, The Podiatrist will conduct a physical examination of the foot and will observe children standing, sitting and walking.
After diagnosis, treatment options can vary. Children with asymptomatic flat feet – when there’s no pain or difficulty walking – typically only need periodic checkups. Children with symptomatic flat feet, however, typically need intervention and additional care.
For most cases, non-surgical approaches are best, often starting with activity modification. This could mean cutting down on time playing sports or avoiding prolonged periods of standing.
To help children with their daily activities, a wide range of orthotic accessories – such as shoe inserts – are available.
The Podiatrist can also recommend styles and brands of shoes that can help ease flat feet. In some cases, custom orthotic devices can be created that support the structure of the foot and improve function.
Ongoing support measures can include physiotherapy, where children can work with a therapist on stretching exercises that provide relief for flat feet. Certain medications, ranging from ibuprofen to prescriptions, can also reduce pain and inflammation.
In general, pediatric flat feet are a relatively normal, treatable condition. If you have additional questions, or think your child may have flat feet, talk to The Podiatrist today.
For all your foot problems, visit The Podiatrist.
Issues with feet can affect anyone at any age. Parents shouldn’t assume that signs of foot problems in children are merely “growing pains.
Managing children’s health is complicated enough, especially for first-time parents. It can be a struggle to truly know and even understand which signs and symptoms are temporary and which point to more serious concerns.
In truth, the professionals a The Podiatrist and Kidsnmotion agree that there are some pediatric foot problems that resolve themselves with growth and time. However, there are clear signs when children need medical help.
Common foot problems can range from pediatric flat foot, toe walking, in-toeing and flat or high arches to tarsal coalitions (an abnormal bridge of tissue that connects two normally separate tarsal bones plus extra bone growth — quite simply, when the bones of the feet fail to separate during fetal development).
While these conditions of the feet and their treatments are different, they share some common signs that show parents there is a problem that needs to be addressed:
- Pain, swelling and redness that does not subside
- Development of thick calluses in one area of the foot
- Problems with the way your child walks
- Shins or thighbones that appear to turn inward
- Ankles that are weak or easily give out
As much as your child’s general health and well-being is important, do not ignore symptoms; foot health is just as important as any other medical examination.
There are several treatment options for these conditions. Whether a less invasive approach — such as shoe modifications, orthotic devices and physical therapy — or a more intensive intervention — such as bracing, steroid injections or even surgery — is needed, The Podiatrist can advise parents on which treatment offers the best long-term prognosis.
If you believe that a family member is experiencing any of the above symptoms, perhaps it’s time to seek professional help and book a consultation for a thorough examination, diagnosis and possible treatment with The Podiatrist.
Wanting to get out there and do some exercise?
Hitting the courts and trails, eager to get moving.
Too many people, however, are failing to warm up first, and that is sending them to emergency rooms and The Podiatrist with painful, slow-to-heal Achilles tendon ruptures.
Located behind the ankle, the Achilles tendon connects the heel of the foot to the calf muscles and is responsible for the powerful push-off essential to running and many sports.
It is the largest and strongest tendon in the body.
A rupture occurs when the tendon tears, and that can happen because of repetitive damage, a sudden jump, or planting of the foot.
Symptoms can include a popping sensation in the heel or major heel pain.
Ruptures can take many months to heal.
Who’s most at risk? Not hotshot kids or professional athletes.
People in their middle ages are most susceptible, particularly men, around 45, who are weekend warriors.
In the winter, people are much less active, so the tendons tend to tighten. Like warming up your car in the morning, it is harder to get your body going. People tend to head out without stretching enough.
The most common sports associated with Achilles tendon ruptures were basketball, tennis, football, volleyball, and soccer. Most of the injuries happened at the amateur level, and 83 percent happened in men.
The Podiatrists’ prescription? Make stretching an all-day thing.
Many people mistakenly think they can just stretch right before heading out for a game or a run, but you need to do it three to four times a day, for about five to six minutes.
Here are two easy stretches:
Runner’s stretch against a wall: Step forward with your right foot and lower into a lunge. Place your hands against the wall, leaning forward. Switch sides.
Achilles stretch: Stand with one leg firmly on a step while the leg you are stretching hangs halfway off the step. Slowly lean back (without bouncing) onto your stretching leg, pushing the heel downward. Once you obtain a good stretch, maintain this position for 10 to 20 seconds. Stretch each leg independently.
For all your foot problems, visit The Podiatrist
If you suffer from chronic cold feet, then it’s important to know how to avoid foot pain during winter weather or when feet get wet and are exposed to the elements. There are many medical reasons for having cold feet and a variety of methods to choose from to keep your feet warm and comfortable. Sometimes feet can feel as if they are frozen, presenting with symptoms similar to frost bite. This can occur from an action as simple as sitting in front of an air conditioning vent in the middle of summer. Resulting foot pain can become incapacitating for some, and threaten a life long debility. Following are some suggestions for keeping your feet warm, healthy and pain free.
Check for medical reasons for foot pain
Visit your health care practitioner
If you suffer from continual bouts of icy cold feet, find out if the cause is related to a medical condition.
Ask the doctor if medicines you might be taking for unrelated illnesses might have side effects including reduced blood flow to limbs. Certain beta blockers for high blood pressure cause this symptom as do many other medications. Ask to try a different medication or natural remedy to avoid side effects.
Keep feet covered
Wear socks and closed shoes! Although it seems obvious, walking around barefoot or in open toed shoes and sandals can aggravate existing symptoms and cause unnecessary discomfort. Even in summer, if you spend a great deal of time in places that are heavily cooled with air conditioning, wearing light weight socks and closed shoes can help avoid foot pain and slow the progression of any medical conditions.
Keep your feet dry
Damp or wet feet are much more prone to becoming cold. If feet become wet, remove shoes and socks, and replace with dry socks and another pair of shoes if necessary.
Stimulate foot circulation
Get up and walk around for a few minutes. While working at a desk, circulation often slows from sitting for long periods of time. Moving around for a few minutes every hour or so will help to increase circulation, protecting feet from pain.
Keep feet warm throughout the year
Wear socks made from natural fibres and if possible, wear 2 layers- this provides insulation and keeps the feet warm. Socks made from natural fibres not only provide warmth, but have strong wicking action that absorbs sweat easily, directing moisture away from feet, keeping them dry. Silk sock liners are thin enough to wear under another pair of socks or in snug fitting shoes and boots.
Wear down booties or sheepskin lined slippers and boots while sitting at the desk to hold warmth in around the feet during cold weather or exposure to drafts from air conditioning vents.
Wear leg warmers to keep lower limbs warm. When ankles and calves get cold, often the feet follow suit and wearing leg warmers helps to avoid foot pain by keeping blood flow more active in the lower legs.
Place a small electric space heater at your desk or by your TV chair. Turn it on and off as needed and direct it toward your feet-BUT not directly on your feet. Using a space heater helps avoid foot pain and also higher heating bills from having to heat an entire room or area of your house. Again, use caution to avoid burning yourself.
Eat warming foods to increase circulation. Spices such as cumin, cayenne pepper and ginger help to open tiny capillaries in the skin and increase circulation, warming feet and reducing painful episodes.
Stop smoking and drinking caffeinated beverages. These products cause the capillaries in the body to constrict, reducing blood flow and causing cold hands and feet.
If your feet get icy cold and won’t warm up in a few minutes by using some or all of the above suggestions, try soaking them in tepid water in the bathtub. Water should not be any warmer than lukewarm and no higher than body temperature. Place feet in water slowly and if it feels too hot, cool water down a bit. Add some Epsom salts and apple cider vinegar to stimulate circulation and soothe aching, painful feet.
For more information on any foot conditions, visit the website: http://www.thepodiatrist.co.nz to make an appointment
Do you suffer from cold hands and feet? As we start getting nearer the winter months (dare I say), there will be many out there with this problem.
The problem is that if you’re a woman, this happens much more easily and dramatically — we do feel the cold more, and it’s all down to hormones.
All of us — men and women — feel cold when our skin gets cold.
Thermo-receptor cells, less than a millimetre below the surface of the skin, are what cause us to experience changes in temperature.
Normally, the skin is kept at a comfortable temperature thanks to blood pumping through the capillaries — tiny, branch-like blood vessels that make up our microcirculation.
But when the thermo-receptors detect cold, they react by causing the capillaries to shut down, diverting blood flow — and warmth — to the heart, lungs and other internal organs. This process is called vasoconstriction.
Incredibly, when we’re cold the amount of blood flowing into the skin in the extremities can become as low as 0.02 litres per minute (the maximum rate is two to three litres per minute).
It’s a bit like placing a blood pressure cuff on the arm.
It’s the hands, face and feet that tend to be coldest and that’s partly because they’re exposed, but it’s also because the body will sacrifice these extremities to keep the internal organs warm.
That’s why our hands turn white, and even blue, in the cold, and why those who survive extremely cold conditions lose fingers and toes to frostbite.
However, in some people — typically women — this process can go haywire, causing their blood vessels to shut down even from a minimal amount of cold.
The blood flow to skin is shut down sooner and more intensely than in men, and afterwards it takes women longer to warm up.
So even though women may feel the cold more than men, it’s their skin temperature — not their core body temperature — that’s colder.
This is partly down to hormones.
In women, the female hormone oestrogen regulates the peripheral blood vessels; high levels of this hormone make them more sensitive to temperature.
As a result, a woman’s temperature will vary during her menstrual cycle as oestrogen levels rise and fall.
It’s suggested this mechanism allows a pregnant woman to ensure her baby is protected from cold, but the causes are still unclear.
There’s also the fact that women have 10 per cent more body fat than men.
Insulation works both ways. The more fat you’ve got, the more you’re defending the inner organs, but it also means you’re stopping heat from reaching the skin.
This phenomenon also explains why women are five times more likely to have Raynaud’s syndrome, a disorder thought to affect women.
It is characterized by extremely cold hands and feet when exposed to the cold — even touching something cold, such as reaching into the freezer.
‘Raynaud’s refers to a wide spectrum of conditions known as vasospastic disorders, which means your microcirculation system is very sensitive. This means that the natural vasoconstriction response to the cold is exaggerated.
It overshoots, so only mild cold causes it to shut down.
Exactly what causes Raynaud’s is unknown, but it can run in families.
The problem can also be triggered by auto-immune conditions such as arthritis and lupus — when it’s known as secondary Raynaud’s.
In a Raynaud’s attack, the capillaries temporarily go into spasm and the blood supply to the extremities is so severely interrupted that the fingers change colour, going white then blue as the supply of oxygenated blood is cut off.
When heat is restored, the hands may swell up and become red and painful as the blood flow returns.
Cold sets it off, but it can be triggered by many things, such as smoking — because nicotine shuts down circulation — and emotion or anxiety, because adrenaline diverts the blood to the muscles.
If you become cold and the blood flow shifts from the peripheries of the body to the centre, the body reacts by getting rid of some fluid to make room for the increased blood volume.
This is why you’ll find that after standing in the cold for a while you’re bursting to go to the loo.
However, all these fluid shifts also increase the likelihood of clotting, and researchers think that may result in the increased cardiac problems.
Cold hands and feet can occasionally be a sign of something more sinister — the blood flow in your body may be interrupted because a vein or artery in the leg has become furred up by fatty deposits, a condition known as peripheral arterial disease.
But here the cold feet tend to be accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain in the arms or legs during exercise (because not enough blood and oxygen is reaching the muscles.
If you’re young and you just get cold feet, you’re probably at the very mild end of the spectrum of Raynaud’s.
So, apart from layering up, what’s the best way to stay warm?
The experts are unanimous in their answer: light exercise. This restores blood flow to the muscles and skin.
Most people have problems in winter because they stop exercising. If you cycle to work or jog while it’s cold, it takes four or five minutes to start to warm up.
Contact The Podiatrist for any foot related concerns.
Every time you take a step, your foot is hit with unforgiving vibrations that can cause tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and more — particularly if you wear high heels or participate in foot-stressing activities, like running.
The muscles in your foot play a huge role in how your body absorbs shock.
To start an at-home foot health routine to reduce pain, try these four moves:
• For strength: Short foot. This is a movement so small, To perform the short foot exercise, stand barefoot and contract the arch of your foot by driving your big toes into the ground. It makes the bottom of the foot contract, it pulls your arch up, and fires your hips and abs — just from that one little movement. “Short footing” a few times a day while you’re doing another activity like brushing your teeth, cooking dinner, or waiting for the bus.
• For strength: Stand on one leg. Now that you know the benefits of single-leg training, try it at home by simply standing barefoot on one foot while standing in line or doing chores around the house. For an extra balance challenge that will really fire your feet, close your eyes — it throws off your centre of gravity and makes balancing more challenging.
• For recovery: Stand on golf balls. Golf balls under your feet work the same as foam roller and massage for other parts of your body-hey break up lactic acid to help muscles relax and recover from stress. If standing on the balls is too intense for you, sit in a chair and roll the golf balls under your feet for a light massage. This exercise can be helpful for arch pain, cramps, and foot pain from plantar fasciitis.
• For recovery: Calf stretches. Tight calves put a lot of strain on your feet, which is why The Podiatrist recommends stretching your calves daily. For a simple stretch, face a wall from two to three feet away. Lean into the wall, keeping your heels on the floor and your knees extended, and hold. For a deeper stretch, stand on one leg on a stair, holding a railing for support. Drop your heel, so that it hangs off the step, and push it down with your weight until you feel a stretch in your calf.
Contact The Podiatrist for any of your foot problems.
WALKING is a milestone in every child’s life, and often parents take it into a bragging right, comparing their child’s walking timeline to other kids’. In their minds, the earlier their child takes those tentative first steps, the better parents they are.
Between the ages of 12 and 18 months, children start to take their first steps. Every child is different, and the only way to go about it is to let them take the lead.
Another thing that parents need to be aware of is proper footwear for kids.
When children can walk steadily (around 18 months old), they should wear “healthy” shoes with mild arch support.
When buying shoes for kids, parents need to reserve one finger’s spacing (i.e. 8-10mm). Most parents have a tendency to buy shoes that are way bigger than their child’s feet, in the hope that the child will grow into them. As kids’ feet grow fast, it is also one way of reducing the need to replace the shoes every six months. Lee says this should never be done.
Do not buy shoes that are too large. Excessive rubbing against the shoes when walking will lead to callus. Besides, since there is too much space between the shoes and their feet, children will try to hold onto their shoes with toes and this will lead to claw toes in the long term.
There are areas of concern that parents should pay attention to when considering footwear for their child.
Flatfoot is a common one, where the foot arch is flattened or fallen when standing, without the normal curve that it should have.
People with a flatfoot become tired and feel the pain easily when they walk. For serious cases, it will affect their knee joints and backbones.
Flatfoot is inborn or genetically linked in most people.
> Children below the age of four: There is a thick layer of fat beneath their feet covering the foot arch, which makes them look as if they have flatfoot. It can’t be determined yet if they really have flatfoot or not, until the layer of fat disappears gradually. Normally, the foot arch develops its shape between four and six years old.
> Children between four and 13 years old: Starting from the age of four, the layer of fat beneath their feet reduces steadily. Before the age of 14, their bones are still in developmental stage. So children with flatfoot could still be treated by using suitable arch inserts and going for regular exercises and a balanced diet to avoid getting fat. There is still room for improvement and it is possible to prevent long-term problems reccurring.
> Children aged above 14: Their bones mature after the age of 14. Although at this stage flatfoot is difficult to improve, it is still necessary to use suitable arch inserts and to do regular exercises to minimise long-term problems (caused by flatfoot).
When choosing the right shoes
> Some mothers believe they should look for shoes with arches for children under two. This can, in fact, interfere with their ability to walk.
> Each child has a unique walking pattern, but more than 40% of mothers do not realize this. Most would put their kids in hand-me-down shoes, especially from older siblings or cousins. This should not be encouraged.
Shoes worn by one child over a period of time would be worn in places depending on the walking pattern. When you put the same shoes on another child, who has a different walking pattern, the support and fit would be off. The child would be trying to form to the gait of another child.
> For the best fit, children’s feet need to be measured every two to three months until the age of two as foot growth is rapid during the first two years. After that, have regular checks every four to six months.
> Bones are not fully formed in a child’s foot until age five, therefore the cartilage can be easily influenced by ill-fitting footwear. It should also be noted that the feet grow right into your late teens, therefore your child’s 10th pair of shoes is just as important as the first one.
> Babies’ feet perspire two times more than adults’, so you should always look for breathable material like leather and mesh or anti-microbial linings.
They should opt for footwear with a hard heel counter, mild arch support and different sizes of toe box that are suitable for forefeet fat and thin.
For professional advice or help with a problem, see The Podiatrist.