A child's feet grow rapidly during the first year, reaching almost half of their adult foot size. This is why podiatrists consider the first year to be the most important in the development of the feet. Proper care at a young age is essential for healthy development. Since many adult foot ailments develop in childhood, periodic visits to your child’s podiatrist and basic foot care can help minimize these problems later in life.
A child’s feet are formed from soft, pliable cartilage which makes them more susceptible to deformities. A young child can be affected by foot conditions such as:
- Flat feet
- Heel pain
Tips for Parents
Parents can help promote normal, healthy foot development for their baby.
- Examine your baby’s feet regularly. If you detect anything unusual, contact your child’s pediatrician or podiatrist right away.
- Encourage exercise. Lying uncovered allows the baby to kick and move feet and toes freely so not to inhibit normal development.
- Cover feet loosely. Tight clothing or covers restrict movement.
- Alternate your baby’s position several times a day. Lying too long in one spot may place unnecessary strain on the feet and legs.
As your baby continues to grow and develop, so will the feet. It may be necessary to change shoe and sock size every few months, as tight-fitting footwear can aggravate pre-existing conditions. After your child takes their first steps, you should also carefully observe walking patterns. Intoeing, out-toeing, and gait abnormalities can be corrected when they are detected early.
A baby’s feet will carry them throughout life, so it’s important to begin good foot care at a young age. Neglecting your child’s foot health invites problems in other parts of the body, such as the back and legs. Whether you have questions about your child’s foot health or suspect a problem with the development of your child’s feet, please contact our office. We want every step your child makes toward adulthood to be pain-free and easy!
With our feet bearing the weight of our entire body, it’s no surprise that carrying excess weight may increase the chance of developing foot problems. In fact, recent studies have shown that overweight people experience more heel pain, tendonitis, arthritis, ball-of-foot pain, fractures and sprains in their feet and ankles than individuals at a normal, healthy weight.
Extra weight doesn’t have to be substantial to have an impact on your feet and ankles. As little as 10 or 20 pounds can trigger pain in the lower extremities. Being overweight changes the way your foot functions, and the force on the feet intensifies.
The most common foot problems from being overweight include:
- Plantar Fasciitis: Excess weight adds strain to the plantar fascia, overusing and weakening it. This causes it to become inflamed and irritated. Heel pain is one of the most common problems caused by weight gain.
- Tendonitis: When the feet endure extra weight, it eventually causes the tendons/ligaments to be overused, which leads to injury and inflammation.
- Fallen Arches: An increase in body weight and pressure causes the supporting structures in your feet (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) to become stretched and weakened, breaking down over time. This can weaken the muscle which gives the foot its arch, causing over-pronation and leading to other problems such as knee and hip pain.
Other effects from carrying extra weight include changes in posture, changes in gait (steps become shorter), and stress fractures.
Losing extra pounds can help ease the pain and reduce problems caused by carrying excess body weight. Unfortunately, it's tough to lose weight when your feet hurt. To combat foot problems triggered by weight gain, ease into a low-impact activity that doesn’t require you to place pressure on your foot, such as water aerobics. Always start any new workout routine slowly. Work with your physician to find healthy ways to modify your diet, and your podiatrist to select the best, most supportive footwear for your feet.
Foot pain is never normal, regardless of weight, as it indicates some type of stress or injury. You should always consult an experienced podiatrist if you are experiencing any pain in your foot.
Are you concerned that you may have sprained your ankle? Our Somerset, NJ, podiatrist, Dr. Jade Gittens, shares a few signs and symptoms that may occur if you have a sprain and discusses treatment options.
Your ankle hurts
Pain commonly occurs the second you experience any type of injury. If your injury is only minor, your ache may quickly disappear. When you have a sprain, the pain lingers, although your pain level may vary depending on the severity of the sprain.
Pain that increases when you walk or stand may be an indication that you have a sprained ankle. Because it can be hard to tell if ankle pain is caused by a sprain or fracture, it's a good idea to schedule a visit with our Somerset office if your pain hasn't improved more than a week after your injury, you can't put any weight at all on your leg, or you experience severe pain.
Your ankle is bruised and swollen
Your blood vessels widen to allow white blood cells to rush the site of your injury following a sprain. Although this response happens internally, you'll notice two outward signs. When blood flow increases suddenly, swelling and bruising tend to occur over the site of the injury.
You heard some sound effects when your injured your ankle
Many people report hearing a popping sound at the moment they sprained their ankles. The sound occurs due to the stretching or tearing of ligaments in the ankle joint.
Your ankle doesn't work the way it should
Swelling and ligament damage can make it difficult to use your ankle to walk, run or jump. If your ankle is stiff and difficult to bend, you may have a sprain.
Rest is an essential element of sprained ankle treatment
Your body needs time to heal after a sprain. If you ignore your pain and other symptoms, you may do more damage to your ankle and lengthen healing time. After a sprain, it's important to:
- Keep your ankle elevated as much as possible.
- Wear a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Apply ice packs and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to decrease pain and swelling.
Although home treatment is often helpful for mild ankle sprains, more serious sprains may require a visit to the foot doctor. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may benefit from a cast, walking booth, crutches or physical therapy. If your ankle becomes unstable, surgery may be needed.
Do you have any of these sprained ankle signs? Podiatric treatment can help you get back on your feet. Call our Somerset, NJ, podiatrist, Dr. Gittens, at (732) 412-1282 to schedule an appointment.
Dry, cracked heels are not only unsightly, but they can also be a source of pain and embarrassment. When the fissures in your heel become so dry and cracked that they bleed and hurt when you walk, it’s time to seek professional care from your podiatrist. Left untreated, heel fissures can become so deep and painful that they lead to an infection.
Cracked heels are most commonly caused by splitting of the skin as a result of severe dryness or thickening of a callus on your heel. Severe cases of dry, cracked heels can occur for numerous reasons, including:
- Cold winter weather or dry climates
- Having diabetes
- Scrubbing feet too harshly
- Soaking in a hot bath or shower for too long or too frequently
- Not moisturizing the feet
- Increased weight
- Walking barefoot or wearing open-backed sandals or shoes
- Prolonged standing at work or home
- Chronic skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
Here are a few tips for keeping heels from cracking:
- Moisturize your feet daily.
- Avoid walking barefoot or wearing open-backed shoes.
- Opt for mild soaps that won’t dry out your heels.
- Increase your water intake to keep your body hydrated.
- Limit time in the shower as hot water dries out the skin.
- Use a pumice stone or file as directed by your doctor to gently decrease thick calluses.
When to Visit Our Office
Cracked heels may begin as an annoyance or simple cosmetic issue, but they can lead to pain and serious infection if not managed properly. Most cases of dry, cracked heels will get better with a little foot pampering or over-the-counter foot cream.
When your heels are severely cracked or painful and conservative treatments have proven ineffective, visit our office. People with diabetes are at an especially high risk for health problems, and should not wait to have dry feet cared for. Severely cracked heels need moisture to avoid pain, bleeding and infection. A podiatrist can work with you to relieve your cracked heels, and get you back on your feet again.
Diabetes affects your health in many ways; keeping your condition in check can sometimes feel like a full-time job! Believe it or not, diabetes has even an effect on the health of your feet. Once you know how to properly manage this part of diabetes, however, you'll find that it isn't difficult or time-consuming. Dr. Jade Gittens, your podiatrist in Somerset, NJ, answers common questions and offers some tips here for her diabetic patients at Premier Foot & Ankle Center.
How does diabetes affect my feet?
Diabetes is a systemic condition that can be detrimental to your overall health without proper management. With regards to the feet, diabetes slows down the circulation of the blood. Since the feet are distanced from the heart, their blood flow becomes particularly compromised. Diabetes can also cause neuropathy, a nerve disorder that prevents people from feeling normal pain. These two complications of diabetes make injuries to the feet more serious than normal because your Somerset podiatrist's patients may not even know they've injured themselves until the wound, which isn't getting the proper blood flow necessary for healing, has become infected and difficult to treat.
How can I take care of my feet when I'm diabetic?
Dr. Gittens, your Somerset podiatrist, recommends taking these precautions to all her diabetic patients:
- Stay protected. Don't walk around barefoot, even inside your house. Wear comfortable but firm slippers and never wear open-toed shoes, especially outdoors.
- Keep clean. Make sure you wash your feet with mild soap and warm water every day. Take time after cleaning to inspect your feet, especially between the toes and on the soles, for any signs of injury. A hand-held mirror can assist you.
- Trim carefully. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrowth and always use clean instruments. Your Somerset, NJ podiatrist can show you the proper technique if you're unsure.
If you're diabetic, any injury to the feet, no matter how minor, should be reported to Dr. Gittens at Premier Foot & Ankle Center in Somerset, NJ. Preventing foot wounds is key to proper diabetes care. For more information, contact our office for an appointment!
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