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Pediatric Podiatry

Foot issues can arise at any point in life. Although they are most common for adults, children are still at risk. Some ailments are actually more common among children! Clubfoot and Sever’s Disease, for example, only occur in young people. If your child has been complaining about painful feet or you’ve noticed he or she walks with a limp, Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM can help. With the nearly perfect weather all year round, children in the city of El Paso are able to live very active and adventure-filled lives. Although this is great for memories and fun, prolonged physical activity in young children can result in foot-related ailments. Here are just a few of the most common issues children face, along with the treatments Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM offers.

Flat Feet

We’ve all heard of flat feet. This ailment is exactly what its name describes. When a foot doesn’t have an arch, it is flat and thus can be the result of a lot of pain and discomfort. If you’ve noticed that your child’s feet are flat, don’t panic! Although the issue may seem difficult to correct, it’s often rather simple. In most cases, x-rays will not be necessary. In order to learn how to care for flat feet, we must delve into what causes this ailment.

Normal Flexible Flat Foot

The most common form of this ailment is known medically as “Normal Flexible Flat Foot.” This manifestation of flat feet doesn’t require surgery or even treatment. People and children with NFFF can wear regular shoes and lead normal, healthy lives. If pain occurs and persists, however, your podiatrist may recommend your child to wear over-the-counter cushion arch supports or simple running shoes with arch support.

Flexible Flat Foot with Short Achilles Tendon

Another variation of flat feet is “Flexible Flat Foot with Short Achilles Tendon.” This form may require physical treatment that stretches out the Achilles tendon. Doing this successfully may be difficult for children with flat feet. In these cases, it’s important to seek medical advice from a podiatrist.

When Your Child May Require Flat Foot Surgery

In some cases, your child may need to get surgery in order to take care of the ailment. More often than not, a child must be 8 years old or older for surgery to be a viable option. The procedure, known as “Calcaneal Lengthening Osteotomy,” helps to lengthen the Achilles tendon in order to connect to the flat foot deformation. In some cases, surgery may also require a bone graft to lengthen the heel bone. The need for surgery is very rare. If you’ve noticed that your child’s feet are flat, visit Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM! He can help rid your child of flat feet and get them on their way to having healthy and functional feet. Take the best step forward and let Dr. Gonzalez help.

Sever’s Disease

Sever’s Disease is a common foot-related ailment that pertains to heel injury in children and it occurs most commonly in adolescence during growth spurts. It is painful but, thankfully, only temporary with no long term effects. This issue is a result of inflammation on the growth plate in the heel. Sever’s Disease is common in children as they grow, it’s even more prevalent in children who are physically active.

Since the weather in El Paso is almost always ideal, it’s common for children to spend lots of time playing outside. Although this is much better than being stuck indoors in front of a television or computer, it can result in Sever’s Disease. Children who partake in sports such as basketball, track, gymnastics, and even soccer can be at risk of this ailment. In some cases, standing for too long or wearing ill-fitting shoes can also cause this ailment.

Symptoms of Sever’s Disease

How can you tell if your child is suffering from Sever’s Disease? It is actually quite easy. One of the tell-tale signs is swelling and redness of the heel. Discomfort, difficulty, or stiffness while walking can also be a result of the ailment. If you’ve noticed that your child has an unusual walk—such as limping or walking on her tip-toes—then she may be suffering from Sever’s Disease. Thankfully, as stated previously, Sever’s Disease is temporary and easy to treat. A visit to Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM can help ease your mind from worries and help your child avoid foot pain.

How to Treat Sever’s Disease

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in your child’s feet or gait, then it’s time to visit Dr. Gonzalez. Diagnosis is quick and won’t require an x-ray. After an examination of the heel to make sure Sever’s Disease is the culprit, Dr. Gonzalez may recommend a few simple options, the most important being rest. Since constant activity results in pain, a break from sports or activities can be all your son or daughter needs to stop stepping in pain. Sometimes, though, the issue may be more severe. If this is the diagnosis, your child may need to wear a cast for 2 to 12 weeks. During this time, the foot and heel will be free to heal. Once the adolescent growth spurt subsides, your child will be able to return to the basketball court or track field.

Clubfoot

Clubfoot is the name given to a birth abnormality that results in the child’s foot twisting out of shape or position. Although the cause of clubfoot is unknown, it has been linked to hereditary and environmental issues. It can often be diagnosed before birth through ultrasound. Although clubfoot may seem alarming, it can be cared for, and the sooner you know your child has the ailment, the better. With the right knowledge and treatment, the clubfoot can return to its natural shape. Clubfoot can be treated successfully without surgery but it’s important to note that surgery may be required later on in your child’s life.

Treatments for Clubfoot

There are two common ways to treat clubfoot. The first and most common treatment is known as Stretching and Casting. As its name suggests, S&C requires a podiatrist to move the baby’s foot into the correct position. From there, the foot will be placed within a cast in order to keep it help in place. The foot must be re-positioned and recast once or twice per week for several months, depending on the severity of the child’s individual case.

Minor surgery may be required in order to lengthen the Achilles tendon. Once the S&C treatment is completed, your child will require stretching exercises and special shoes. These shoes must be worn full-time for three months and then afterward braces may be required to be worn at night for up to three years. Although this may seem like a lot of work, the end result will be a healthy foot that will allow your child to walk and run with ease. If the clubfoot is severe, a more invasive surgery may be necessary. The procedure will lengthen the tendons in your child’s foot and will require the use of a cast for up to three months.

Tarsal Coalitions

In simple terms, a tarsal coalition occurs when two or more bones in the foot are connected or fused together. Although this sounds frightening, it’s actually rather simple to treat. Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM will let you know if your child requires orthotics, physical therapy, temporary cast or boot, or injections in order to relieve the issues that arise from tarsal coalitions.
But how does this manifest? Common symptoms of tarsal coalitions are stiff, painful feet, flat foot, or pain and limping after high levels of activity. It may seem easy to mix up this ailment for Sever’s Disease since both can manifest in similar ways after high levels of activity. For this reason, it’s important to visit Dr. Gonzalez so he can correctly diagnose your child’s foot health issues and offer treatment options. Surgery may be necessary in more severe cases of tarsal coalitions. X-rays are a common necessity when diagnosing tarsal coalitions.

It’s Time to Visit the Pediatric Podiatrist!

Youth is a time for adventures and learning about the world. It can be difficult to fully appreciate childhood if every step results in pain. Dr. Juan A. Gonzalez, DPM can help your child move past the pain that occurs from foot-related ailments that commonly affect children. Help your child stop stepping in pain and visit us today!