Children, including teenagers, who complain of foot or ankle pain should be examined by a specialist. The same applies to a youngster who appears to walk abnormally.
Problems related to skeletal maturity are specific to the age of the child and require special attention. Evaluation requires a thorough history and physical exam, and often x-ray or other imaging like MRI.
Foot and ankle pain in the pediatric population is often associated with minor trauma or repetitive stress. Often there is no clear history of an injury. Older children may isolate pain to a specific site whereas toddlers are more likely limp or refuse to bear weight.
Flatfoot symptoms often improve with arch supports (orthotics). Children with an abnormally high arch may need to be monitored for neurological symptoms.
Apophysitis refers to inflammation at the tendon attachment to the bone. It is common in the heels during pre-teen and early adolescent years.
In contrast to adults, children have relatively stronger ligaments than bone or cartilage. Trauma results in growth plate (Salter-Harris) fractures more commonly than sprains. When a sprain does occur, it must be treated aggressively to prevent it from becoming chronic.
Stress fractures are increasingly reported in the pediatric population. The metatarsals are most commonly injured; less common are calcaneus, navicular and cuboid bones.
Tarsal coalition is the abnormal attachment of regular bones. This is distinct from accessory (extra) bones, which usually only need treatment if painful.
Skokie Foot & Ankle Specialists, Ltd.
9933 Lawler Ave., Suite 315
Skokie, Illinois 60077