Pediatric foot deformities include a wide range of conditions and issues that can affect tendons, bones, and muscles. A child’s distinctive needs must be taken into consideration when treating them, as there is room for growth and various treatment options available for them. Orthopedists and pedorthists specializing in this field can use both nonoperative and operative techniques to treat a child’s foot.
Here are a few foot deformities that can help you distinguish between how they affect you or your child’s foot:
- Cavus foot: a condition in which the child has an overly high arch. In this case, the heel of the foot will be pointing inwards.
- Tarsal coalition: when the coalition will limit movement of the foot, resulting in stiffness and even pain. Develops late in one’s childhood.
- Accessory navicular: classified as extra bone growth on the inside of the navicular and within the tibial tendon. Someone who has this condition may feel tenderness or pain.
- Juvenile bunion: when the big toe angles towards the other toes due to the metatarsophalangeal joint not aligned properly.
Achilles Tendon Involvement in Pediatric Conditions
It is commonly known that the Achilles tendon accounts for many foot deformities and conditions when injured or overused. This may even be hereditary. In short, the injuries sum up to four categories:
- Congenital: the contracture of the Achilles tendon
- Developmental: when the Achilles tendon shortens
- Traumatic: associated with the overuse of the tendon
- Neurological: when the shortness or the weakness of the tendon is a result of an underlying neurological condition
Additionally, when the Achilles tendon is lengthened, it may result in gait deformities, and neurological conditions can likely be the cause of such lengthening. Within the congenital section, flat foot is also associated with the contracture of the Achilles tendon. Furthermore, these conditions can be found having a family history, such as idiopathic toe walking (ITW). However, family history is not applicable to everyone.
Treatment is not hectic to seek, so worry not! It is quite a simple fix with shoe inserts and custom-made orthotics to help correct the position of the foot. Orthotic clinics specialize in treating such foot deformities.
Management of foot deformity in children
Managing foot deformities in children comes with many options to seek treatment as well, including surgery if the condition is severe. Treatment options that are most common are manual therapy and orthotics. Usually, stretching exercises are given in conjunction with orthotics to maximize the results. For those with ankle deformities and conditions, studies mentioned in peer-reviewed articles have shown that ankle plantar flexor surgery improves the dorsiflexion of the ankle. Overall, experts will have you tending towards orthotics first before resorting to surgical options.
What is clubfoot?
In the second section of this article on the Achilles tendon’s involvement in foot deformities, the shortened length of the tendon was mentioned as being an issue in a few deformity categories. Clubfoot is when the Achilles tendon is too short. Thus, the foot remains pointed, remaining under and turned in. The difference in the muscles and tendons acting upon the foot is what contributes to foot alignment.
What is the best surgical treatment for clubfoot?
The best surgical treatment for clubfoot really depends on many factors, especially if the foot requires major reconstructive surgery. This will correct the position of the tendons and align it with the toes by working with soft tissue structures of the toe. If the surgery is less complicated, then the tendon may be transferred to the inside of the midfoot. This way, the method targets only the affecting tendons and joints, rather than the entire foot.
Can running correct flat feet?
Though yet to be officially stated, some studies have shown that barefoot running is able to help reduce pronation. This is good for people with flat foot because they usually overpronate. There is a trend shown that people who do not wander around barefoot much have flat foot more so than those who are habitually barefoot. The logic behind correcting flat foot by running is that stronger intrinsic muscles can create that arch shape.
Does flat foot impact your running speed?
Having the arch shape in your foot helps your foot spring into the motion when you run, making it convenient to run. Without the arch shape, this makes running a little more difficult because of overpronation. However, for as long as you have flat feet, there is no need to feel discouraged. People with the condition are able to run great with practice, and trying to run barefoot will not hurt. In fact, you may develop an arch shape from running barefoot from time to time. That being said, treatment for flat feet should be sought as soon as possible.
I’m 15, is there hope for my flat feet?
Fifteen is an age where you are still growing into a young adult. There is definitely hope for your flat feet! It is important to stick to habits such as resting regularly when you overuse your feet, avoiding overpronation through conscious daily exercise, and using custom orthotics when required. Flat feet can also occur if one is overweight, which is why taking care of your body is just as important in maintaining the wellness of your feet. By visiting an orthotic clinic, there are a variety of options to treat flat feet, such as arch supports, shoe inserts, custom made shoes (orthotics), orthotic devices, and many more!
At our Burlington foot clinic, you can receive the assessment and treatment you need to help with your pediatric foot deformity. Give us a call today at 289‑245‑6624.