From heel pain to flat feet, foot problems can occur in even the littlest of patients. Here, podiatrists in Singapore share some of the top paediatric foot conditions they treat at their podiatry clinic. Plus, learn the signs to look for if you’re a parent.
Flat feet, in-toeing and heel pain
As chief podiatrists at Straits Podiatry (a member of Healthway Medical), DR SAW YU TING and MR JACKIE TEY treat patients of all ages with ailments affecting the lower limbs. This includes everything from plantar fasciitis, heel pain and bunions to chronic ankle pain, ankle sprains and arthritis.
Children, they say, are affected by many of the same foot conditions as adults. In fact, kids are even more likely to be affected by some conditions, due to the rapid rate at which their bodies are growing and their active lifestyles.
While it’s possible for children to “grow out of” some conditions, they recommend early assessment by a podiatrist to determine the underlying cause. This can also help prevent pain and further problems down the line. For instance, in-toeing – where the toes point inward toward the centre of the body, instead of outward, while walking – can cause frequent tripping and falling, increasing the risk of injury. In many cases, treatment can be as simple as wearing custom insoles.
Dr Saw and Mr Tey say that kids can also benefit from early intervention in cases of flat feet – where the arch of the foot isn’t curved. Besides pain (commonly mistaken by parents as “growing pains”), flat feet can cause difficulties with muscular balance and coordination. Early intervention with custom insoles, or even braces in more severe cases, can provide greater stability, relieve pain and prevent problems down the line.
Paediatric heel pain, or Sever’s disease, is another common condition experienced by active children. Although this resolves when the growth plate at the heel bone fuses – usually between age 10 and 14 – custom insoles and other treatments by a podiatrist can relieve the pain and allow the child to participate in sports and other activities.
Parents: Here’s what you can do!
There are certain signs that can indicate foot conditions in children, and some are more obvious than others. With flat feet, for instance, the foot itself can be checked for any indications. The easiest way is by looking at their footprints – for example, after swimming; a normal footprint will have a concave curvature along the inside of the foot, whereas a flat foot will have either a convex curvature or no curvature at all.
There are more subtle signs that can point to paediatric flat feet, Sever’s disease, in-toeing and other foot conditions. They include the following:
- Complaints of aches and pains under the feet or at the back of the legs after activity. (This is particularly common in paediatric flat feet patients aged from four to nine.)
- Persistent requests to be carried or seated in a stroller during walks. This is a not-so-obvious way for little ones to avoid the pain from walking with flat feet.
- Tiring easily, especially when going for long walks frequent tripping and falling.
- Common complaints of heel pain, especially after activity.
- Walking on toes.
- Difficulties walking barefooted.
- Difficulties resting heels on hard surfaces even when seated.
- “W” or kneel sitting positions, which can lead to in-toeing.
When to see a podiatrist in Singapore
Dr Saw and Mr Tey recommend visiting a podiatry clinic if children show any of these signs. Consulting a podiatrist, they say, can not only help alleviate your child’s pain but can also help prevent problems later on in childhood and adulthood. Additionally, they encourage parents to pay attention to the walking patterns of their children between the ages of two and five to identify any early signs of in-toeing.
Straits Podiatry Child & Adult Lower Limb Clinic
1 Rochester Drive, #02-01
6990 4574 | straitspodiatry.com
This article first appeared in the September 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!