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Children’s Feet

At what age should a child’s feet be assessed by a podiatrist?


The answer to this question is complex, but simply put, there is no correct age for when a child should see a podiatrist to be properly assessed. If your child is experiencing discomfort or pain, or if you have noticed visual abnormalities about your child’s lower limbs or gait, consult a podiatrist as soon as possible. A child will not be aware that these sensations are abnormal. Being proactive and vigilant about your child’s health can help resolve and prevent problems from developing into more serious issues.

Like adults, children can develop feet deformities and conditions. While some of these conditions will resolve over time, others may continue into adulthood.


At East Coast Podiatry, our podiatrists perform full paediatric biomechanical assessments for children with musculoskeletal complaints. This allows us to build a comprehensive diagnosis of present and future problems for paediatric patients. We also work closely with other healthcare professionals such as orthopaedic surgeons, allowing us to make prompt referrals for any children who need more serious intervention.

Growing Pains

Children occasionally complain of sore legs or pain around the lower half of the legs during the night. These are commonly described as ‘growing pains’.


There are a number of misunderstandings about growing pains. It is not a sign of juvenile osteoarthritis and it is not caused by the growth plate itself. However, there are other conditions or scenarios that are responsible for the discomfort that children experience. For example, there is a medical condition where the periosteum of the bone or even the growth plate become irritated or inflamed.

Children In-toeing

In-toeing, or “pigeon-toed”, is often noticed by parents when the toddler starts walking in earnest.  The feet appear to turn inward, instead of pointing out or straight ahead.  In-toeing can be due to abnormal bone alignment in the legs and feet, or due to soft tissue contractures in the hips, or a combination of both.  A lower extremity examination is necessary to pinpoint the site of rotational deformity.


Where conservative treatment is indicated, orthotic gait plates can be used to passively correct the in-toeing.  Orthopaedic surgery may be required in cases of severe deformity, pain, and/or limping.

Children Toe Walking

Parents usually notice toe-walking in a child when he/she first walks independently.  The toe-walking may be habitual (voluntary), or it may be due to an underlying neuromuscular or neuropsychiatric disorder (such as autism).


In the common case of habitual tip toe walking, we initiate treatment to encourage the child to walk normally.  Prolonged toe-walking can lead to a shortening of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, in which case surgery may be required.

Children Knock Knees

Knock-knees, or genu valgum, is an angular deformity exhibited at the knees when the child is standing at attention: the knees touch, but the feet do not.


While knock-knees development is physiologic and self-correcting for many children, medical attention is warranted in cases where it is severe or asymmetrical.  Surgery may be required.


Where knock-knees are mild and only require monitoring, podiatrists turn their attention to its secondary effects on the feet.  The valgus knee angle acts as a pronatory force on the feet, pushing them out and away from under the leg bones.  It is important to protect the feet from such abnormal stresses during a child’s development.

Children Orthotics (shoe insoles)

It is important to assess foot problems in childhood and address them if necessary as some of these issues can have long-lasting effects, affecting the individual’s quality of life as an adult.


One of the treatments available for children is biomechanical correction. This is most effective while they are in their growth phase, as their musculoskeletal structure is more malleable and easier to correct. Proper correction via custom orthotics can help a child’s musculoskeletal system develop normally, and painlessly correct many conditions through daily use.



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