Common Foot and Leg Problems in Children
1. Flat Feet / Excess Pronation: When a child has flat feet or excess pronation (feet rolling inwards) this can cause aches and pains in the feet and legs. Excessive pronation causes the joints in the feet to unlock allowing the bones to move out of alignment. This has a domino effect causing the ankles, knees and hips to be out of alignment. The muscles in the feet and legs try to compensate for the excess pronation but in doing so can become tired and overused resulting in aches and pains of the feet and legs.
Picture of a flat foot
2. Intoe / Pigeon toe: Also known as internal tibial torsion. This is when the shin bone (tibia and fibula) twist inwards (internally) causing the foot to be in an intoed position. The body compensates by the gluteal muscles trying to twist the leg outwards (external rotation).When the child gets tired, the gluteal muscles are not as effective at correcting the pigeon toe. This can result in the child becoming clumsy and trip. This is especially prominent when they play sport.
Out Toe / duck foot: This is known as external tibial torsion. This is when the shin bone is twisted outwards and you walk like a duck. This time the body compensates by the groin muscles trying to twist the leg inwards as these muscles are internal rotators of the hip. Once again if the child gets tired the groin muscles are not as effective in correcting the duck feet, and the child reverts back to an out toe gait which can result in the child clipping their heels together while walking or running and tripping over.
Picture of flat feet
Clumsy Gait: This can be due to a number of reasons. The main causes are:
(1) Intoe and out toe – when the body becomes tired usually at the end of the day or after sport, the muscle's effectiveness in compensating for the intoe /out toe becomes reduced. This can result in the child tripping over or appearing to be clumsy when walking.
(2) Excess pronation – this unlocks the joints in the foot resulting in instability.
(3) Knock knees – The child will try to compensate by swinging the knee out and round to avoid the knees knocking together.
All of the conditions above are hereditary but can be helped and fixed with orthotic therapy, stretching and strengthening the muscles and the wearing of correct footwear.