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Worried About Your Children’s Foot Or Leg Health?

As parents, it can be confusing to discern between whether what we’re seeing is normal or whether something is wrong when it comes to our children’s foot and leg health. With so much growth and change over the first decade of their lives, paired with friends and family often giving unsolicited advice about whether something is fine or not, it’s important to get the right information from trusted health professionals.

When it comes to foot and leg health, there are two primary allied health professionals that can help answer important questions: podiatrists and physiotherapists. Here are a couple of common observations about children’s feet that may have you wondering – and what they actually mean – according to the professionals.

In-Toeing

In-toeing is a common observation in young children that are in the first years of walking. In the early years, in-toeing is typically a normal variation that will resolve on its own over time. Any in-toeing that persists beyond the age of 6-7 years warrants an assessment with a podiatrist. There are several possible causes of in-toeing you should be mindful of, including:

  • Metatarsus adductus: a banana-shaped curve in the foot present from birth, most likely from the position in the womb. This should be addressed with a podiatrist promptly for management, and will typically resolve by the age of two with the help of your care team.
  • Tibial torsion: this is in-toeing caused by internal rotation of the shin bone (tibia). Typically, this type of in-toeing resolves by the age of five. If in-toeing persists beyond this age or causes problems in the interim like tripping, falling or clumsy walking, book in to see your podiatrist.
  • Femoral anteversion: this is in-toeing caused by the thigh bone (femur) rotating inwards, with an inwards rotated kneecap, particularly notable during running. This cause of in-toeing persists the longest, typically resolving by age 11, but with help it may be able to be managed earlier. Like tibial torsion, if the in-toeing is causing pain, tripping, balance issues or other problems, see your podiatrist promptly.

Growing Pains

Growing pains occur when growth plates, the vulnerable areas to which new bone is added so that our bones grow and lengthen, become irritated or inflamed. Growing pains often present at the back of the heel, the outside of the foot, or at the knees. 

While there’s a common misconception that growing pains are inevitable, or that there’s nothing to do but wait them out (often said by well-meaning relatives or friends), this is grossly inaccurate. Growing pains are very treatable, and a condition that both physiotherapists and podiatrists work closely to help with. Growing pains can also be present in the upper body for which you should see your physio.

Flat Feet & High Arches

In children under the age of five years, having flat feet is normal, and not a cause for concern. At this age children’s foot muscles are still developing, their fat pads are more prominent, and the feet are still very flexible. From the age of five onwards, arches start to develop, albeit at different rates. Some children may have arches by age six, while others may develop them closer to age twelve., While health professionals don’t consider the presence of flat feet alone to be a specific problem, having flat feet paired with symptoms like pain, regular tripping or falling, or balance issues, is something that warrants a visit to the podiatrist. Your podiatrist will also discuss the future risks that flat feet can pose, and how to best manage these risks, even starting from an early age.

High arches are similar to flat feet in the sense that their presence alone does not indicate a problem or a guarantee for foot or leg pain in the future, but your likelihood for problems does increase because of the tendency of this foot type to lack shock-absorbing qualities. This means that ground reaction forces are more readily transferred onto the bones and joints, which can lead to pain at the feet, ankles, heels and knees.

Many people with high arched feet tend to distribute body weight less effectively and evenly through the foot during gait, loading more pressure onto the heels, ball of the foot and the outside of the foot. This may lead to pain in these areas alongside corns, callus and cracked heels. This foot position is also often linked to clawing of the toes, which can carry its own set of pains and problems. High arches typically don’t flatten on their own (nor can they be), so if you’re concerned about your child’s arches and want to reduce their likelihood of pain or injury in the future, book in with your podiatrist.

Knock Knees

Knock knees describes a leg and knee position where the knees can touch or rub against one another when walking, but the ankles do not touch. Knock knees are actually a normal alignment variation in the early years, particularly around 3 years of age. This should resolve by the age of 7 years. If knock knees persist beyond the age of 7, or if they’re causing pain or problems like causing your child to trip when running, bring them in to see a physio or podiatrist.

Regular Tripping or Falling

While kids are often thought of as being adventurous and ‘risk takers’, regular tripping and falling is not normal – and can lead to various other injuries like sprains or fractures. If your child is regularly tripping or falling, it is worthwhile to have their muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, bony alignment and overall gait assessed by a physio or podiatrist. Here, you and your child will be offered insight as to why the tripping or falling is occurring, and what can be done to help.

Weakness, Instability or Balance Issues

Much like tripping and falling, if you notice your child’s balance or coordination is ‘off’, or there is any notable muscle weakness that may be causing a problem like a foot drop, always have them checked out. There may be something going on that we can help with, in a range of ways, from a strengthening programme to an orthotic to a custom brace that supports your child’s movement and comfort.

Get The Help Or Reassurance You Need Without The Upfront Cost

While every parent wants the best for their child, making appointments like these can be challenging for many kiwi families due to the unexpected upfront cost. HealthNow is enabling parents to get the care and assessment they need for their kids at a fraction of the upfront cost. 

HealthNow is the world’s first Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform that is entirely dedicated to making healthcare accessible and affordable, meeting higher regulatory compliance to ensure it operates with social responsibility. It also has greater user benefits – like remaining completely free for you to use as a health consumer with no fees, sign up costs or any hidden expenses. 

Simply book your child’s physio or podiatry appointment with a HealthNow-affiliated clinic, and when it comes to pay for your appointment, simply use the app on your smartphone to decide how many weeks you’d like to spread the cost over, up to twelve weeks. Your health provider will get paid in full on the day of your visit, while you only pay a fraction of the cost upfront. You can also use HealthNow to purchase any rehab equipment from the clinic – and much more.

HealthNow also has a specifically-designed health wallet to help you save money safely to cover the costs of any medical or health-related appointments, services and products for any member of your family. This is a fantastic option for those wanting to best prepare for future unexpected health events. You choose the amount and frequency that you’d like to contribute – and others can also contribute to your health wallet, from family members who want to help you look after your health, to employers as part of employee wellness programs. Once the money is in your wallet, it’s yours in full to spend any time on any health-related cost with HealthNow. It can also be used for your family members or loved ones.

Get Started With HealthNow Today

Getting started with HealthNow is free and easy. Download the app and follow the instructions to set up your account. You can also check out HealthNow’s full benefits and features through the website, and see how it can help ease some of the financial stress off your strength journey.

 

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