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.
Heel pain affects a large portion of the population, often resulting in visits to The Podiatrist. Plantar fasciitis is typically the diagnosis the patient receives during the visit; however, plantar fasciitis is only one potential cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a strong, dense strip of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Its sole job is to support the arch of the foot. .
It is easy to see how the plantar fascia may be causing all this pain as the foot impacts the ground when you think about how often the full weight of the body is concentrated on the plantar fascia. This forces it to stretch as the arch of the foot flattens from the full weight of the body, possibly leading to stress where the plantar fascia attaches at the heel bone. If this keeps up, the result can be pain caused by small tears of the fascia.
If it is not the plantar fascia then what else could be causing my heel pain?
Calf muscle weakness (muscles on the back of the lower leg) can result in referred pain directly to the heel.This is seen after someone has changed/added a workout program or modified the type of shoes they wear. This adds additional stress to the calf muscles that they may not have been ready for and lead small areas of irritation in the muscles.>
Calf muscle tightness – this causes the connective tissue surrounding the muscle to pull harder on the Achilles tendon leading to tightness at the heel, possibly resulting in the pain you’re feeling.
Sciatic nerve irritation – the nerve that runs from the low back through the hip and down the leg to the foot can get tight or pinched not allowing the nerve to move easily as you walk. This can lead to irritation of the nerve causing pain that is located at the heel. This is very common for anyone with any history of low back pain or hip pain.
Poor Posture – if you sit slumped forward most of the day the muscles and structures from the back of your neck, upper back, lower back, and hips can get tight and shortened, consequently pulling on the heel.>
Weakness of the muscles around the hip can cause muscles in the leg to shorten to help stabilize, consequently pulling on the heel.>
Why is this so confusing?
It may be hard for you to pinpoint the cause of heel pain yourself because the symptoms are the same for all of the above listed causes. No matter what the cause, you will experience pain on or around the heel when weight is placed on the foot. This is usually worse in the morning, especially with the first few steps after getting out of bed. In most cases, there is no pain at night, but this is not a rule as many of our patients report increased pain at night. Pain of typical plantar fasciitis is typically believed to decrease over the course of the day as the tissue warms up; however, patients have also reported increased discomfort as the day progresses, leading on to investigate other areas as the source or cause. Additionally, prolonged standing, walking, or getting up after long periods of sitting are commonly reported with all of the above causes. Again, the reports can be as varied as the potential causes.
Activities that make the pain worse:
Excessive running or jumping
Changing physical activity (especially for athletes)
High arches, flat feet, abnormal gait
Wearing improper shoes while walking or running
The Steps to Relieve Heel Pain
In most cases, heel pain does not require surgery and can be treated conservatively, but the first step is to obtain an evaluation by The Podiatrist who can help pin point the actual cause of the pain that’s specific to you. It is important to not treat the symptom of heel pain, but to isolate and treat the cause.
The Podiatrist may then recommend treatment , depending on the needs of your particular condition. In extremely painful conditions, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases give you a cortisone shot to address excessive inflammation.
Most people with heel pain get better with the help of The Podiatrist, but don’t wait. The longer you “live” with the pain the longer it may take to get rid of it as your body adapts. Most acute cases (less than 30 days) can get better within 6-8 weeks. Additionally, treatment should include activities that directly address the cause of your heel pain and are designed to include you in the healing process, so your participation is critical.
The Podiatrist specializes in the treatment and management of all foot related problems and will assess what is the cause of your foot/heel pain, not the symptom.
For more information or to find out if you are a good candidate for our services contact The Podiatrist
Flat feet and turned feet are commonly seen in young children.
Flat feet happen when the arch of the foot is flatter than normal. It can be much flatter than normal. While flat feet are seen in people of all ages, it is most noticed at first in children. In many cases, the arch will form with age. However, for some children, the flattening causes painful feet.
Flat feet become more noticeable when the child starts to walk, and by the age of 3 the arch should be able to be seen during walking. If the feet are still flat at this age, then parents should have their child’s feet examined by The Podiatrist. If the arch is not looked at, then the child risks long term damage to the feet.
Turned feet can be noticed even before a child starts to walk.
Your child’s feet should not be turned in or out excessively. The foot should not be upward resting on or too near the leg. When holding your baby, the feet should hang naturally and similarly – one should not be turned out, in up or down more than the other. Many early foot deformities can occur only on one side.
Signs of a flat foot are a low or flat arch, an outward turned heel during walking.
The child may complain of sore or tired feet after walking or playing. Children with painful flat feet sometimes have trouble keeping up with friends because their feet get too sore or tired. If the arch is too flat, then foot muscles and joints have to work harder than normal during walking and running. Flat feet also change how the ankles, knees, legs, hips, and back work, and so there may also be pain and tiredness in these places.
Depending on the examination and history of the problem, The Podiatrist may decide to treat the flat feet. If the flat feet are mild, and if the child is still very young, The Podiatrist may simply want to see the child back in a few months. This way we can re-check the arches. If the flat feet are more severe, then treatment may be started. Usually treatment begins with exercise and foot inserts, or orthotics. The orthotics will re-align the feet to help the child walk more properly. Stretches or physical therapy may also be recommended.
If you have any concerns about your child and their feet, contact The Podiatrist.