Conditions treated by podopaediatrics

Podopaediatrics is a subspecialty of podiatry which focusses on the delivery of podiatric care to children in need of such specialist care. Treating children is vastly different to treating adults, the former being less able to explain exactly what it is that is bothering them. Because of this podopaediatricians need to complete extra qualifications beyond their basic podiatric training that equips them with the knowledge and experience to effectively identify and treat foot problems in children.

Children are also susceptible to a variety of podiatric problems distinctly different to those experienced by adults. While most older people who visit podiatrist may do so because of an underlying condition like arthritis or diabetes, children tend to suffer from congenital problems (abnormalities from birth). In this article we look at some of the different conditions that a podopaediatrician might encounter whilst treating a child.

Podiatric problems in young children

In- and out-toeing are two common podopaediatric ailments in young kids. Both are gait (walking pattern) conditions that develop as a child begins to walk, the new movement sometimes causing the feet to turn at awkward angles. Many young children will begin to walk with their feet turned inwards, a habit called in-toeing or pigeon toing. Others do so with their feet turned outwards in the sister condition, out-toeing.

While in many cases this particular gait issue can be resolved over time as a child adjusts his or her walk, in some particular circumstances, especially where there is an abnormality in the structure of the foot, in- or out-toeing can develop into an abnormal gait that places undue stress on the joints of the feet and knees. In these circumstances your doctor will need to evaluate your child’s walk, and in most cases will advise a visit to a podiatrist who can take measures to help adjust your child’s gait. Again however, in most cases in- and out-toeing resolve themselves by the age of 3, and it’s only when past that point, and if your child is suffering from pain or is limping, should you consider consulting your doctor.

Severs’ disease is a podiatric ailment typified by a distinctive pain in the heel, and this is a condition known to affect young children. This condition is fairly rare, however when it does occur the cause is usually an abnormality in the growth of the heel structure which can cause an inflammation of the Achilles tendon (the long connective tissue running between muscles of the ankle and foot). It tends to affect children between 10 and 14 years of age.

Clubfoot is an example of a foot abnormality which can affect children from birth. Clubfoot is actually an umbrella term and there are a number of different variations of the condition, medically known as talipes because of the characteristic deformity of an ankle bone called the talus. Clubfoot can be treated to adjust the gait problems it causes, and podiatry is an invaluable practice in this regard.

Flat foot is a condition along the same lines as clubfoot in that it is a congenital defect which can impact gait in the long run. A normal foot has a distinctive arch which is responsible for a distinctive and healthy stepping motion. When this arch is collapsed (not present), flat foot is diagnosed, and this condition can cause knee pain and gait issues in the long term.

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a joint problem which can affect active teenagers. The condition involves distinctive cracks in cartilage and bone which is caused by a lack of blood flow to these areas. Ultimately the condition causes a fragmentation of both bone and cartilage at affected joints, causing painful inflammation and stiffness. This is a very rare condition which can benefit from podiatric care.

These are only some examples of conditions affecting young children which can benefit from podopaediatric care. Most Trusts in the UK now offer NHS funded podiatric care where a condition is affecting mobility and quality of life, beyond these there are private practices which can offer their services at a fee.

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