Does Your Child Need Foot or Ankle Surgery?
Whether or not your child will need foot or ankle surgery depends on an array of factors, but we can say for certain that our goal is to use nonsurgical treatment as much as possible. (Actually, this is the case for any patient who comes through our doors – no matter his or her age.)
Now, it’s always best practice to avoid surgery whenever possible. In the case of children, this can be even more important for the simple reason their feet have not stopped growing. That means there are certain conditions where we may recommend surgery for adults, but will not do the same with children. An example of this is with a bunion. (Yes, children can get bunions too!)
Bunions are progressive in nature. Part of this means the only way to truly correct a bunion is with surgical intervention. As such, we may recommend bunion surgery for adults suffering from severe cases.
For children, bunion treatment often consists of orthotic therapy. Custom orthotics allow us to modify processes that contribute to the development and exacerbation of bunions. It is important for juvenile bunions to be treated early because the other part of the “progressive” label means the condition will only worsen (“progress”) over time if left unaddressed. Early intervention can spare your child a lot of pain in the long run.
Getting back to the matter of whether or not your child needs foot or ankle surgery, we have some good news – many foot and ankle problems are effectively treated with conservative care!
To see this more clearly, let’s look at some of the more common issues children experience, including flatfoot, sports injuries, and heel pain.
Flatfoot is a condition where foot arches are not as high as can be reasonably expected. A primary concern with this particular condition is a biomechanical abnormality known as overpronation. While a foot with arches of a more “normal” height will typically roll inward about fifteen percent during the ground portion of a step, individuals with flatfeet tend to have a more excessive roll.
Fortunately, most cases of flatfoot do not cause pain. Even better, conservative treatment is often quite useful in relieving painful symptoms. Orthotic therapy, in particular, can be particularly beneficial.
In the case of sports injuries, a child will often need to take time away from activities so his or her body can begin repairing damaged tissue. Ice and medication can often help relieve pain, while physical therapy prepares the body for return to normal activities.
That said, some cases may require surgical intervention. This is mainly true for those injuries that are more severe in nature (which is actually a bit of a running theme for this matter).
Whereas the most common source of adult heel pain is plantar fasciitis, children are usually plagued by a condition known as Sever’s disease. This condition is a bit misnamed, since it really isn’t a disease. Rather, this is a condition that can be thought of as a growing pain of sorts. Sever’s develops when a growth plate in the back of the heel reaches peak physical maturity before the Achilles tendon (which is anchored to it). The tugging between tendon and bone is the source of the pain.
With Sever’s, the condition will eventually resolve itself over time and, as such, treatment is centered on managing symptoms (instead of “fixing the problem”). Accordingly, a customized treatment plan of nonsurgical options is often very effective.
For more information on child foot care—or to request an appointment to determine if surgery is actually needed for your child—simply contact us by calling whichever office is most convenient for you:
- Rego Park: (718) 896-4433
- Plainview: (516) 822-9595
- Flushing: (718) 969-2266