Children’s Podiatry Sunshine Coast at Potter Podiatry
Paediatric Podiatry is a specialist area of Podiatry that treats foot & lower limb pain, structural alignment problems & gait disorders.
Paediatric Podiatry is a highly specialised area of Podiatry that requires detailed understanding of motor control & learning theory, gross motor development, normal torsional & alignment development as well as Paediatric pathophysiology. All too often lower limb problems are missed at an early age, causing unnecessary pain for the child, problems keeping up with their peers & sometimes psychosocial problems associated with poor sports performance or disinterest in physical activity. Queensland has a childhood obesity epidemic, Podiatrists play an essential role in keeping children active & pain free to maintain a healthy weight & physical development.
Children’s feet undergo particularly rapid growth before the age of 5. Poor footwear or alignment problems can cause significant problems when the growth plates of bones are ‘open’. Children (like adults) reference their posture to the ground. A combination of proprioceptive (joint position)*, visual (referencing posture to the horizon) & vestibular (inner ear) input is required for development of a healthy gait & posture. Children with both diagnosed and undiagnosed visual or hearing problems may experience problems with gait due to interruption of this vital integration of senses.
This is the sensory system which detects limb position. The proprioceptive system gives the awareness of where body parts are at any given moment, and determines the force needed to be exerted during an activity.
As the foundation of the body, the proprioceptive information sent by the foot joints to the postural control centre of the brain help determine muscle activation patterns. If muscle patterns are activated incorrectly (such as in the tip toeing or in-toeing child), muscles, tendons, ligaments & nerves may develop pain or injury. Postural & gait adaptations may occur which can cause lifelong musculoskeletal problems.
Proprioceptive & vestibular function is the foundation of development
It is vital to understand that without changing this input, these muscular patterns typically become more ingrained. It is for this reason that the earlier we see a child, the quicker & more straight forward the treatment.
Poor foot mechanics (such as in Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, flat feet, in-toeing, tip-toeing) can affect the proprioceptive information the brain receives via the feet. This affects muscle activity patterns and can lead to postural & gait adaptations. If left, these can cause lifelong musculoskeletal problems.
Vital stages in gross motor skill & gait development occur before the age of 8. Early assessment is therefore essential. Intervening early, while bones are still rapidly growing, offers the best opportunity to make lasting improvements to a child’s foot & leg health.
- Any complaint of foot or lower limb pain
- Delayed onset of walking
- Poor balance/ clumsiness/ co-ordination
- Flat feet
- Gait disorders (in-toeing/ out-toeing/ tip-toeing)
- Difficulty keeping up with peers
- Alignment disorders (Metatarsus Adductus, Junvenile HAV)
- Trips frequently/ asks to be carried/ wants legs massaged