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Conditions Treated:

The human foot is a biological masterpiece.  It comprises an intricate combination of 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 ligaments, and a network of tendons, nerves and blood vessels working together to establish the graceful synergy that is walking and running.


Children's feet are a constantly changing, growing marvel.  It is essential children's feet are well looked after to ensure they can carry us well into adulthood.  Below is a short list of common foot anomalies and complaints experienced during childhood as well as other common causes of aches and pains.

 

Paediatric Podiatry

Flat Feet (& rolled in heels/ankles)

Heel Pain (including Sever's Disease)

Knee Pain (including Osgood Schlatter's Disease)

Growing Pains

Knock Knees & Bowed Legs

In-Toeing (Pigeon Toed) & Out-Toeing

Abnormal Walking (including Tippy-Toe Walking)

 
 

Flat Feet (& rolled in heels/ankles)

The term "Flat Feet" is a broad term used to describe feet with a low arch.  The term has developed a bad reputation over the years.  This is not 100% warranted.  Some people with flat feet just have an anatomically low arch - i.e. the bone structure of their foot is such that it forms a low arch or flat foot.  In such instances, these people may never have any problems related to their flat feet. Or at least, they are no more susceptible to injury than people with a neutral arch profile.
 
The real issue with flat feet comes when a person has a neutral or high arch profile when non-weight bearing, but a flat foot upon standing.  The flattening of the arch usually occurs due to the heel and mid-foot rolling inwards.  This is called pronation.
 
Pronation should occur each step when the heel hits the ground, to absorb shock.  But when the foot pronates too far it causes excessive strain on several structures within the foot, as well as potentially causing pain within the heels, ankles, shins, knees, hips and lower back.
 
The single biggest job of your podiatrist is to determine what is causing the excessive pronation.  A failure to do this will decrease the chance of any treatment working.
 
If your child does require treatment for excessive pronation, it does not mean they will require orthotics for the remainder of their life.  It is often necessary to use orthotics until your child's muscles provide enough support without them.
 
Wollongong Podiaty focuses on treating the cause rather than just attempting to relieve the pain.
 
 

Heel Pain (including Sever's Disease)

Sever's disease is a common condition suffered by active children between the ages of 9 and 14.  Sever's disease is not caused by an infection, nor is it contagious.
 
Pain occurs at the back of the heel during and after running and jumping activities, and is often passed off as growing pains.  Whilst the condition is associated with growth, it is very much a real ailment that requires careful management and treatment.
 
The pain occurs due to the achilles tendon pulling on an active growth plate at the back of the heel bone, or calcaneus.  It occurs during growth spurts and unfortunately, the more active your child is, the more likely it is that Sever's will affect them.
 
In certain cases Sever's requires a long period of complete rest whilst the growth plate is at its most active.  Wollongong Podiatry focuses on providing careful management, of which most is performed at home, to ensure your child can continue their active youth.
 
 

Knee Pain (including Osgood Schlatter Disease)

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common condition suffered by active children between the ages of 11 and 15.  It is often passed off simply as growing pains.  Whilst the condition is associated with growth, it is very much a real ailment that requires careful management and treatment. 
 
Pain occurs as a result of the large thigh (or quadriceps) muscles attaching, and constantly pulling, at the top of the shin (or tibia) bone, where there is an active growth plate.  Unfortunately, the more active your child is the more likely Osgood-Schlatter disease is to develop.
 
In the worst cases complete rest is required to prevent ongoing trauma to the growth plate.  Wollongong Podiatry focuses on providing careful management, of which most is performed at home, to ensure your child can continue their active youth. 
 
 

Growing Pains

Growing pains occur commonly in active children.  Some growing pains are simply due to muscles, tendons and bones growing at different rates.  When there is a rapid growth spurt the muscles and tendons often lag behind, placing additional strain on them.  When carefully managed, the muscles will gain strength and the growing pains will ease.
 
Other forms of growing pains are more serious, such as around the back of the heels, front of the knees or within the hips.  These are specific conditions called Sever's disease, Osgood-Schlatter disease and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.  Irreparable damage can occur if left untreated.
 
If in doubt see your podiatrist for assessment and management.
 
 

Knock Knees & Bowed Legs

Knock knees and bowed legs (or genu valgum and genu varum) are common abnormalities at various ages of infancy.  Bowed legs are normal from birth through to the age of 3 or 4.  Then the knees tend to become knock kneed through to the age of 5 or 6.  If they do not resolve in the early years of development however, they dramatically alter the forces acting on the feet.
 
It is not possible to correct the altered knee angle in adulthood (without major surgery), although orthotics can dramatically reduce excessive force through the knees, ankles and feet.  Therefore, treatment and management of such conditions should be undertaken at an early age to minimise the risk of long term problems.
 
 

In-Toeing (Pigeon Toed) & Out-Toeing

The term in-toeing, or being pigeon toed, refers to when your feet point inwards when standing or walking.  It is very common for children to start walking in a pigeon toed manner.  In most instances this corrects itself naturally, or with conservative management, in the early years of growth.  When the pigeon toed alignment persists into adolescence and adulthood it can be difficult to correct.
 
Therefore, it is important to determine when treatment is needed, and what type of treatment is warranted.  A lot of the management can be performed at home.
 
Your podiatrist will discuss home management as well as specific footwear requirements for your child.
 
Out-Toeing occurs when the feet turn significantly outwards when standing and walking.  A small amount of out-toeing is acceptible.  If you use a clock as a reference the feet can function efficiently when pointing  anywhere from the 12 (i.e. both feet parallel) to the 11 for the left foot and the 1 for the right foot.
 
If out-toeing is excessive it is important to determine where the out-toe is coming from, be it hips, thigh, knees, shins or ankles; and direct treatment accordingly. 
 
 

Abnormal Walking (including Tippy-Toe Walking)

All children begin walking in their own individual fashion.  Many abnormal walking patterns can be ironically normal, as long as they resolve in a reasonable amount of time.
 
The most common abnormalities are in-toeing (or pigeon-toed walking) and tippy-toe walking.  Both can be completely normal phases of walking or they can be signs of a more significant malalignment or muscle tightness.
 
If you are concerned at all make an appointment to see your podiatrist, even if only for peace of mind. 
 
 

Ingrown Toe-nails

Ingrown toenails are a very common, painful condition where the corners or edges of a nail dig into the soft skin of your toe.  Infection occurs frequently due to feet providing an optimum growth environment for microscopic bugs.
 
If you have, or think you have, an ingrown toenail, apply an antiseptic to the nail edge and make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible.  Your podiatrist will remove the offending nail edge with minimal discomfort and advise on further antiseptic application required.
 
One or two follow-up appointments are often required to prevent a recurrence.
 
If your child's toenail continues to grow in such a way that ingrown nails are likely to be a frequent occurrence, as often occurs in childhood, your podiatrist can permanently remove the offending portion of nail with a minor surgical procedure under local anaesthetic.