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Common Pediatric Foot Problems

Just like adults, children can experience a wide variety of foot issues, such as heel pain, ingrown toenails, and fractures. Some may even occur more frequently and develop much quicker as a result of growth spurts. No matter the foot problem, it’s important to know the signs of today’s most common pediatric foot problems and understand how to help your child.

Sever’s Disease

Sever’s Disease is the most common type of heel pain for children. Also called calcaneal apophysitis, it’s actually not a disease at all. Instead, it’s an injury that affects heel bones that are still growing, which is why it can only affect children. The condition results from inflammation and irritation in the heel’s growth plate. Once the heel is inflamed, using the affected foot therefore becomes difficult for your son or daughter. Luckily, this overuse injury can be treated and managed. Basically, the key is to reduce pressure from the heel and eliminate inflammation. This could require your son or daughter to take a break from daily sports activities, wear cushioned inserts and stretch their Achilles tendon daily. Then, when your child’s feet stop growing, the condition disappears entirely.

Ingrown Toenails

With constant growth spurts, most children will experience an ingrown toenail or two before their feet have reached full size. If your child has an ingrown toenail, the skin surrounding the nail may be red, swollen, and painful. They are typically caused by ill-fitting shoes, improper nail trimming, hyperhydrosis, or trauma. To treat this condition at home, soak your child’s foot in warm water and Epsom salt for 20 minutes each day to alleviate symptoms. In addition, you can try to place a very small wisp of dry cotton under the offending nail border. To prevent ingrown toenails in the future, ensure that your child’s shoes and socks are never too tight and that their nails are not trimmed too short.

Flat Feet

Flat feet is a condition where the foot has a decreased arch or even no arch. The condition can be congenital meaning a person is born that way or it can develop due to a variety of biomechanical conditions. Children with flat feet should be treated with custom molded orthotics. If children are fitted with these devices early they can help your child develop an arch as they grow and prevent life long issues with flat feet.


Surprisingly, podiatrists treat just as many bunions on children as they do adults. A bunion is a bony enlargement on the inside of the foot near the big toe. It can be caused by poor foot mechanics or genetics. The most common symptom is a painful bulging bump on the inside base of your child’s big toe. Bunions are usually treated with physical therapy, padding, taping, wearing comfortable shoes, and oral anti-inflammatory medication. In addition, there are more than 60 different types of bunion surgeries for patients to consider. Children typically have growth plate surgery to correct the bunion and/or abnormal foot growth. This type of surgery is usually only recommended for those between the ages of 8 and 13.

If your child experiences any of these common pediatric foot problems, make sure to monitor his or her condition. Then, if your child’s condition does not improve, give Gulf South Foot & Ankle a call or visit our clinic as soon as possible.

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