Pediatric Foot and Ankle in South Florida
Foot Pain Specialties
Many foot ailments that adults suffer from actually have their origin in childhood or are present at birth. If symptoms are not addressed early on, pain and deformity can continue into adulthood. The most common foot and ankle conditions found at birth or during childhood are club foot, flatfoot, calcaneal apophysitis (Sever’s Disease), and plantar warts.
Club foot Symptoms and Treatments
Club foot is a foot deformity present at birth. This condition alters the bones, muscles, tendons and blood vessels in the feet, and can affect one or both feet. Club foot is fairly common in newborns; however, boys have a higher risk of developing this deformity than girls. The condition causes the heel to point downward and the front of the foot to turn inwards. In addition, the calf muscles are often weaker and the foot structure is typically short and wide in shape. The most common treatment for club foot is called the “Ponseti” method. The treatment begins right after birth and includes 2-to-3 months of frequent castings, surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon at approximately 6-to-12 months of age, and bracing for several years post surgery. Based on the severity of foot deformity, additional surgery may be required.
Flatfoot Symptoms and Treatments
Flatfoot is caused by the partial or total collapse of the arches in the foot. It is frequently present at birth but may not appear until later. Not all patients suffering from flatfoot will suffer from symptoms, but in many cases patients will experience pain, tenderness, and cramping in the foot, as well as an outward tilt of the heel. In addition, patients with flatfoot often experience changes in their walking pattern and have difficulty wearing shoes. If a patient suffering from pediatric flatfoot is experiencing pain or discomfort, Dr. Weaver will often first recommend non-surgical treatments, including:
- The use of custom orthotics or shoe modifications
- A physical therapy or strengthening exercise routine
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen
- Modification of activity level
Dr. Weaver will often recommend surgical intervention for patients suffering from severe foot deformity due to flatfoot.
Sever’s Disease Treatment Options
Calcaneal apophysitis, also known as Sever’s disease, is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. Children are more likely to develop this condition between the ages of 8 and 14 because the majority of heel bone growth occurs at this time. As the heel bone grows, the new bone forms on a weak and sensitive area on the back of the heel known as the growth plate. If repetitive stress is placed on the heel during growth, inflammation can develop. Children who participate in sports, such as soccer or basketball, have a higher risk of developing this condition because of repeated stress placed on the heel during running. Flat feet, high-arches, a tight Achilles tendon, and obesity can increase the risk of developing Sever’s disease. As the condition develops, children will experience heel pain and may have difficulty running or jumping. Pain symptoms will often cause patients to limp or walk on their toes. Sever’s disease is treated with a combination of orthotics, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, rest, and activity reduction. As the heel bone continues to grow, there is a chance that the condition may reoccur.
Plantar Wart Causes and Treatments
Patients of any age can develop plantar warts, but they most commonly occur in children and adolescents. Plantar warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV type 1) and can develop anywhere on the foot, though they most frequently appear on the bottom of the foot. Plantar warts can appear as one single large wart or as a cluster of small warts. HPV is transferred through skin-to-skin contact, such as when a child has a cut on their foot. As the wart forms, the skin in that area will thicken (resembling a callus) and small black dots may appear on the wart surface. Walking and standing will often become painful as the wart grows in size. Warts will sometimes clear up on their own, however removal of the wart is typically necessary. Removal methods include topical treatments, laser therapy, and cryotherapy (freezing). Based on examination of the wart, Dr. Weaver will determine the best removal process.
Pediatric Foot and Ankle in South Florida
Dr. Jamie Weaver is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of pediatric foot and ankle conditions. She provides the highest quality care to patients in Naples, Florida. For more information about pediatric foot and ankle conditions and treatment options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Weaver at the Joint Replacement Institute’s Naples office at (239) 261-2663.