Today, March 21, was designated as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) by the United Nations back in 2012. For the past two years, this day has been a time to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down Syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
As a Houston podiatrist, I’ve decided to help further the message of WDSD by helping people understand the way Down Syndrome affects the feet. Because they have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, individuals with Down Syndrome have unique physical and developmental characteristics; some identifying foot and gait (walking) features include:
- Smaller and/or shorter limbs, toes and feet
- Low muscle tone and loose ligaments
- Broad feet with a deep plantar crease
- Flat feet
- Decreased range of motion in the ankles
- Feet pointed outwards (walking like a duck)
Because of these features, people with Down Syndrome tend to experience certain foot problems, including:
- Heel/arch pain (plantar fasciitis)
- Pain related to flat feet
- Ingrown toenails
- Problems fitting shoes properly
If your child has Down Syndrome, I recommend setting up an appointment with a podiatrist early on in order to discuss how we can work with his or her feet to help prevent some of the painful foot problems he or she will be more susceptible to. Working with your child’s unique foot, we can craft solutions to potential problems long before he or she experiences discomfort. As a doctor and a father, I invite you and your special child into my Tanglewood Foot Specialists office to craft a foot-care plan in our relaxed, stress-free environment.