Many deformities that show up in adulthood can often be traced back to foot growth and development in children. It is often possible to prevent the lasting effects of abnormal foot growth and development in children by early diagnosis. Foot strength is a key ingredient in the prevention of fallen arches and other foot related injuries.
Children begin to walk anywhere between 8 and 18 months of age. Most toddlers are flat-footed when they first start walking or tend to turn their feet inwards because muscle strength and ligament stiffness needs to catch up to other development. Nearly always flat foot improves as the feet strengthen.
You may make an appointment to see the podiatrist if you are concerned about your child's feet or gait.
Problematic symptoms may include:
- Abnormally shaped toes
- Ingrown toenails (that persist or are painful)
- Bunions or other deformities
- Stiffness in the foot
- The child complains of pain while walking, or favour one leg over another when walking
- Severe in-toeing or out-toeing
- Flat feet beyond the age of five years
- A sudden change in the way your child walks
- If your child isn't walking at all by two years of age
- Warts (Verruca Pedis) - Click here to see the type of treatments we provide for this condition
Common Paediatric Foot Types
The sole of a normally developed foot has an arch, called the medial arch, formed by muscles and ligaments. For the first two years, your child's feet will seem to have fallen arches. Flat feet are normal in a young child due to weak muscle tone in the foot, a generous padding of fat and loose ankle ligaments that permit the foot to lean inwards. As your child masters walking, the ligament and muscles will strengthen and the fat pads in the arch area won't be so noticeable. By around five years of age, your child should have normal arches in both feet.
Very occasionally, toddlers walk with their feet turned outwards (out-toeing). This tends be more common in children who were born prematurely. In most cases, out-toeing resolves by itself as posture and balance matures, but you may see the Podiatrist if you are concerned.
Many toddlers walk 'pigeon-toed', with either one or both feet turned inwards (in-toeing). In most cases, this is simply a sign of developing posture and balance, and should resolve by itself (without the need for medical interventions) somewhere between the ages of three and five years.
If the in-toeing is severe, seems to involve the leg and hip as well as the foot, or isn't improving by the time your child is around one and a half to two years of age, see your Podiatrist for assessment. Excessive in-toeing may be caused by a variety of underlying factors, such as hip joint problems.