My greatest blessings and greatest joy in life come from my family. When I have a bad day, a hug from a 6 year-old when I walk in the door or a 15 year-old waiting to talk to me makes everything better. I love seeing them learn and grow and get great joy with their successes and often hurt when they hurt. But as a father and a podiatrist, I notice their feet, I notice a limp, and I notice how they walk. Many parents also notice these problems in their own children. I therefore want to explain important things to consider when evaluating your children:
- Pain is never normal. I commonly hear people talk about “growing pains” and consider them normal. Growing should not be painful! Pain will always have a cause and can usually be treated without difficulty. If your child is complaining of foot, ankle, leg, knee or even back pain, their feet and walking pattern may be the cause. Don’t let them continue to suffer, but see a specialist that is experienced in evaluating foot and ankle complaints in children.
- Flat Feet can be normal, but only when very young. In children 1-4 years-old, the foot has a flat appearance and often has no arch. This is due to a special fat pad located in the arch area of the foot that produces the cute baby feet. As they grow, this fat resorbs and starts to develop into a more normal arch appearance. As they get older, therefore, the foot shouldn’t remain flat. Many pediatricians will tell you that you can outgrow a flat foot, but not all forms of flat feet will be outgrown. Evaluation of your child, even at a very young age, can help prevent future problems.
- Your foot problems can be passed to your children. Most of us notice recognizable traits passed to your children from us. The hope is that we only pass the best traits, but sometimes even our “bad” traits make it through the genetic line. Do you have foot, leg or back pain? Do you like how your feet look? What kind of arch do you have? Do you have conditions that may require surgery or medical treatments?
- You have passed your feet to at least a child or two. Although they already have their feet and the traits thereof, through careful, experienced evaluation and treatment, problems can be prevented and the foot can be strengthened to limit future problems. If you could prevent your problems as a child, wouldn’t this be a good idea?
- Every family member can benefit from a foot evaluation, especially if you have foot problems. Through evaluation, walking patterns can be determined, injuries can be reduced, and future surgeries or difficulties can be prevented. By evaluating a family together, it is also very beneficial to compare the adult foot to the child foot, because genetics are a key piece of any future difficulties.
So the real questions you should be asking each and every day is “Who’d you give your feet to?” Is that a good thing or should you seek help in preventing future problems