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The Paediatric Foot

At the Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre we assess any young person from early age up to their early adult years and will be able to assist with any of the paediatric foot problems or refer on to specialists in the particular area of the problem – we liaise with the team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and have a visiting podopaediatric specialist that visits the Centre.

Examples of conditions commonly seen at the Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre include:

Tip toe walking – describes young children which walk on the balls of their feet, and this is not unusual in very young children, it is a developmental stage. However, after the age of two a normal heel to toe gait should have commenced. Toe walking after two years of age may indicate a problem such as cerebral palsy, shortened calf muscles, muscle dystrophies or more simply habit. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed we can discuss the cause and the most appropriate treatment plan.

Fallen arches – describes a condition whereby the inside of the arch is flat. Fallen arches are normal in babies as the arch is filled with a layer of fat and so this a normal developmental stage. From 5-6 years the arch begins to form. If the arch formation is interrupted and or impeded by a neurological condition or developmental issue – this must be investigated and if need be, we can refer on. Fallen arches or flat foot can be caused by flexible joints, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, tarsal coalition (fused bones) or various developmental issues which can be investigated and identified. At the Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre we will be happy to discuss any problems your child may have, investigate this and recommend a treatment.

Downs Syndrome (“DS”) – DS is a chromosomal condition that can produce a number of both mental and physical characteristics which may vary from mild to severe. Many children with DS will have problems with the way that they walk – these are associated with low muscle tone, loose ligaments, however other conditions will include tripping, smaller legs, feet and toes, very flexible joints and ligaments, limited ankle movement, and out pointed feet and toes. At the Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre we can assess your child and propose a number of treatments that will assist you child’s foot comfort and mobility.

Sever’s Disease
– is an inflammatory condition that affects the growth plate at the back of the heel. Children between the ages of 8-16 can be affected and may complain of pain around the back of the heel, around the site of the Achilles tendon. More often children active with sports and those who have just experienced a growth spurt are more commonly at risk. Where the heel bone at this prone age is in two parts and in between is cartilage which later on becomes one bone, however in the development stage over-activity and a growth spurt is associated with this area becoming inflamed. The Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre can investigate this as this painful condition at this stage in development can cause difficulties with a lasting affect if not treated. Treatment may include orthotic therapy, footwear review or simply ice packs, rest and exercises.

“Talipes equino varus”, or club foot syndrome, is a deformity that is present from birth. The feet point down and curve in and can affect either one foot or both and is seen in two forms, either structural or positional. The affect is caused by muscles on the outside of the leg which are not as strong as those on the inside of the leg. At an early stage your child can be treated to improve future movement and balance with orthoses and stretching exercises to achieve greater mobility and balance.

There are numerous other conditions seen in a developing young person such as in toeing, out toeing, Achilles tendon issues, bursitis and different forms of knee pain, heel pain which arises as a result of adverse transitional development and which may be assisted in different ways.

If your child is complaining of foot ankle or lower limb pain, the Oxford Foot and Ankle Centre will be happy to review your child’s difficulty and advise on an appropriate treatment plan or referral.