Can you help us improve NHS Choices?

Take part in our survey to share your views

Children's feet 

A podiatrist explains common foot problems in children, including verrucas and curly toes, and the possible solutions.

Learn more about children's foot problems

Transcript of Children's feet

My name is Emma Supple,

I work as a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon in Supple Feet, Enfield,

and in the NHS.

Hello, baby. I'm going to look at your feet.

When you bring your child to the podiatrist,

we look at the stages a child goes through.

We're interested in symmetry and good progression.

We will ask at the first instance how a child was born.

We then look at the crawling stage

and then we move to the walking stage.

All these things build up a picture

of which child needs some help and which child is normal and is growing fine.

The commonest problem we see with children's feet is verrucas.

Now, a verruca is a perfectly normal infection

and you don't need to treat it.

The evidence shows us that they all go within two years of appearing.

Now, we only start treating a children's verruca if it starts to hurt.

Clearly if a child is limping because of a verruca,

then it's time to intervene.

The second common problem is curly toes.

A lot of people come into the clinic with a child with crossing-over toes

or overlapping toes or toes that are a bit more crooked than they need to be.

If they're under four then it's a good idea to take them to a podiatrist

because they're still very soft, lots of cartilage,

and we can put a little bit of tape on them

and over a couple of months see them straighten out.

They may also need to wear an insole

to get the back of the foot into a more appropriate alignment.

Tiptoe walking is something that a lot of children go through

and it's only a problem if they can't obtain heel contact.

If, however, there's a definite tightness in the calf muscle

because they're walking on tiptoe all the time,

then we need to start doing some gentle calf muscle stretches

and the podiatrist will look to see if there's an underlying foot problem

that's making them be more comfortable in a tiptoe position.

Flat feet are something that do need to be looked at by a podiatrist.

If they're complaining of tiredness, if their feet are tilting and rotating,

if there's a family history of foot problems,

get them to a podiatrist for a proper assessment and treatment if needed.

Another problem in childhood is painful heels.

Now we're looking at a child who's around 12

and starting to complain of heel pain.

This is where they get an overpull of the heel bone.

So the heel bone is growing and it has a growth plate in the middle

and if you pull it too much, one side pulls on the other side.

It literally just gets a bit sore.

Again, this child's usually a little bit flat-footed

and we need to put an insole into their shoe,

get them into nice soft, cushioning shoes

and just give them some calf muscle stretches.

Very occasionally children will get bunions.

They can start as young as eight years of age

and there's a very strong family history of these,

so in essence they're inherited.

Now, the evidence has shown us quite importantly

that surgery on these young children who have bunions is not a good idea

and what we need to do is manage them conservatively

until they reach 18, 19, when their bones have stopped growing.

Treatments for children's feet

generally work on shoe advice, exercise advice,

having a look and seeing what problems we've got,

and then we spend a lot of time working out which insole or orthotic,

which is a specialised shoe insert that would fit your child.

Sometimes we need to cast for this

and sometimes we can just get them and fit them straightaway.

But all the time they're managing the ankle joint

and how the foot relates to the ground.

It's very important to get this prescription right

because the right insole will do a great deal of good

and the wrong insole could do harm.

So a lot of our work is the platform and the structural safety of the foot.

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 0 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

Leg and foot problems in children

Common problems affecting the legs and feet of children under five

Foot health

How to keep your feet healthy, choose the right sports shoes and what to do if you have smelly feet