Simple At-home Checks Help Spot Foot Problems
By Dr. P. Benjamin Nikravesh DPM, DABPOPPM, DABPS
Before returning to school after the winter break, Dr. Nikravesh, a local member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, recommends that parents take five minutes at home to check for signs of possible foot disorders that could prevent active children from participating in sports and other activities.
Here’s the checklist:
• Do the bottom of the child’s shoes show uneven wear patterns?
• Does the child walk irregularly? Is one leg longer than the other or do feet turn in or out excessively?
• Do pre-schoolers walk on their toes?
• Does the child often trip or stumble?
• Does the child complain of tired legs, night pains and cramping?
If parents take time to perform these checks, they will identify symptoms of common foot ailments, such as ingrown nails, and more serious foot disorders like flat feet that can hamper a child’s performance in physical education classes and sports. If a child’s shoe is worn on the big toe side of the foot, it could be a sign of poor arch support or flat feet.
Parents can spot several potential foot problems by observing kids’ walking patterns. For example, if a parent determines that one leg is longer than the other, heel lifts may be required to restore proper balance. Early intervention prevents scoliosis (curvature of spine) later in life.
Toe-walking in younger children can result from too much time spent in walkers as toddlers. Parents are urged take action to correct tightness in the Achilles tendon area that occurs from excessive toe-walking. I recommend stretching exercises that can be fun for small children and will help preventlower back pain as they get older.
For those beginning college, heel pain and shin splints can plague freshmen not acclimated to walking long distances across campus to attend classes. I see students every year complaining about pain from walking so much everyday. Daily stretching and proper walking shoes are recommended, and for those with deformities such as hammertoes, surgery is advised to make walking more comfortable.
Parents also should heed complaints about tired legs, heel pain and leg or foot cramps at night. There’s no such thing as ‘growing pains,’ so when kids complain about leg and foot pain they might have flat feet or another disorder that should be evaluated immediately. He added that children withsflat feet are at risk for arthritis, tendinits, plantar fascitis later in life if the problem is left untreated.
Parents who notice a potential foot problem should have the child evaluated.
Dr. Nik’s Foot & Ankle Center is located in Los Angeles. Dr. Nikravesh is Double Board Certified and specializes in surgery and orthodics.