Footcraft Friday: Snowmen for Christmas

Thanksgiving is over, which means Christmas is almost upon us! When it comes to the holidays, we all want to give our children the world. But what better gift is there than a life free of pain? I think we can all agree that helping your kids walk and play comfortably is of utmost importance! Don't let heel pain prevent your kids from running and playing in comfort!

Unfortunately, we aren't all able to acknowledge when our kids have a problem that requires a trip to the podiatrist. It's often tempting to brush off kids aches and pains as a normal part of growth. In fact, this is the opposite of the truth. 

For example, did you know that heel pain in children can actually be a symptom of Sever's Disease, a condition that affects the growth plate on your child's foot? Here's what you need to know: 

Causes of Kids' Heel Pain
When kids  ages 8 to 14  have heel pain, the cause is often Sever's Disease (of course, kids of any age can experience this problem.) Typically, student athletes, especially basketball, soccer and football players, are most at risk for Sever’s Disease, because the constant activity levels cause irritation to the Achilles tendon and growth plate. Also, children who play sports all year long often develop this problem, because they never give those growing bodies a chance to recover from the impact of their athletic training.

Kids with high or stiff arches are also at risk for this specific kind of heel pain, probably because they are also at risk for inflammation and tightness in their Achilles tendons.

Treating Sever’s Disease
It can be tempting to leave kids' heel pain alone, hoping it will resolve without medical intervention. I get. We're busy parents, and it's tough to find extra time in the day to head into a medical office. And, to a certain extent, your instincts are (at least partially) correct: even if you do nothing at all, symptoms of Sever’s will eventually go away. The problem is, we have no idea when that will happen.  It could take days, weeks, months or even years for your child to get over his or heel pain—without medical intervention, that is.  

On the other hand, with just one visit to the podiatrist and quite conservative treatment measures, the pain of Sever's Disease can become extremely manageable. Once you come into my office, I can evaluate your child and determine the factors that have contributed to his or her problem. Then we can get down to the business of making that pain go away! 

We'll likely take a multi-pronged approach: anti-inflammatory medications, both oral and topical, can help with the inflammation. Icing the affected area may also help manage your child’s symptoms, but you must be careful not to leave the ice on his or her skin for longer than 20 minutes.  Long term, orthotics may also help your child overcome the biomechanical issues causing Sever's symptoms, but that's something we can only determine after an in-office exam. So, be smart this holiday season and take the time to address any lingering foot, heel or ankle pain that's been bothering your kids. One quick trip to the podiatrist could give them the gift of a lifetime of pain-free walking! 

And now that we've covered the big picture, let's get down to the fun part of our Friday blogs: our weekly footcraft! 

Snowman Foot Print Craft

If you're sadly imagining another not-white holiday in Houston as we gear up in the weeks before Christmas, you can take heart in this statistic: true winter weather can be a big problem for kids’ little feet as they get crammed into boots that may rub and cause blisters, or get stuffed into thick socks and shoes that cause sweat and make their feet more prone to fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Thankfully, we don’t really have to worry about those cold-weather foot woes here in Houston, but we also don’t get to enjoy some of the season’s simple pleasures, like building a great big snowman in your back yard.

Not to worry: just try out this Footprint Snowman craft from Handprint and Footprint Art. Bonus: you don’t need 10 layers of clothing to enjoy this winter activity!

Paint both your child's feet for a project that's twice as nice!

Supplies

  • White Paint
  • Colored Markers
  • Colored Paper

Instructions

To make this adorable Footprint Snowman, place a white footprint on a piece of colored paper. When it dries, paint or draw on a hat, scarf, carrot nose, coal eyes, buttons, and arms.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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