Foot pain in children is not normalNo child should feel restricted in the amount he or she walks, runs, or plays because of pain. There are no exceptions: There is no such thing as "normal" foot pain for a child. Here in Houston, we have our kids scheduled with nonstop sports and dancing, not to mention school. It is so important to keep our children moving without pain.

Many parents understand that their children should not be in pain and do the right thing when they notice their child is not feeling right - they go to visit their pediatrician. Unfortunately, 90% of the time they will hear what is taught to physicians worldwide who treat children: "He'll grow out of it." Sound like a cop-out? It usually is.


Why Kids Feet Really Hurt

Let's take a look at some different problems. The most common is when a child wakes up in the middle of the night with a leg cramp. This is commonly called "growing pains." Growing pains should not be of concern if they occur infrequently. When it does occur, just tell your child to stand up and "walk it off." If it is a nightly occurrence, or even if it happens several times a week, you should visit with your child's doctor.

More concerning are pains that the child feels when standing, walking, or running. These are most commonly caused by biomechanical imbalances that cause instability of the leg and foot. Children with this kind of pain often need to see a podiatrist for the issues to be addressed properly. A custom orthotic is usually used for this purpose.

Very young children often have trouble telling their parents about the pain in their legs and feet. Children this age may not understand what they are feeling; they just know that something is wrong. Parents often get frustrated with these children when they whine that their feet hurt. Sometimes these kids just sit down in the middle of the mall because they don't want to walk anymore. These children also often seem clumsy and trip over their own feet.

Older children know that athletics make them uncomfortable and will opt for activities in which they can be more sedentary. These kids may feel that they are bad at sports, so they avoid them. Many times, these children will walk "like a duck" with their feet angled away from one another. A parent may also notice the inside of the ankle rolling over the foot. If it looks painful, it probably is.

Just because a child is active and athletic, they are not immune to foot pain. Such children are susceptible to sprains, strains, and fractures just like an adult. Children also have unique athletic injuries. For instance, active children ages nine to fourteen often can have a severe pain behind the heel. This is due to an inflammation of the growth plate on the back of the heel bone. This syndrome is known as Sever's disease. Like other childhood injuries, this is due to inflammation caused by the Achilles tendon pulling too hard on the back of the heel.


Overcoming Childhood Foot Pain

So will children simply grow out of their painful conditions? It certainly is possible. Some issues, like Sever's disease, are self-limiting, meaning the condition will go away on its own. Unfortunately, this can take months or even years to occur. For other issues, they may seem to go away, but they will reoccur as painful problems once kids are fully grown. The instability of abnormal pressures can also lead to bunions, hammertoes, and heel spurs.

All parents want to be proactive to allow their child to feel better quickly. The solution is to provide stability to the lower extremity to allow to pain to resolve, keep it gone, and prevent future problems.

An orthotic is a custom insole that is made by a podiatrist to stabilize and balance the feet and legs. This will allow the child's limb to function more efficiently and eliminate the pain. By reducing the pressure, it will also prevent future problems. The orthotic will enable your child to maintain or increase their level of activity. This will enable him or her to run faster and feel better - all without pain!

If your child is complaining about pain in the back of the heel, or any pain at all, realize that this is not normal. Your best bet is to visit a pediatric foot and ankle specialist. Contact Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate appointment to get your son or daughter back into the business of childhood!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.