Your Guide to Pediatric Foot Deformities

Foot deformities are scary, especially for parents of a child who was born with one or has developed a deformity over time. Though the treatment of foot deformities in children differs greatly from the treatment used on adults, there is still a lot that can be done to reverse your child’s condition. By recognizing what causes a foot deformity, a parent can decrease the risk of their child developing one.

What Causes Pediatric Foot Deformities?

Foot deformities in children are caused in two different ways. A child can acquire a deformity due to fracture malunions, muscular dystrophies, Charcot-Marie Tooth disease, tethered cord, spasticity infection, tumors, or trauma to the growth plate and joint surface. A child can also be predisposed to foot, ankle, and toe disorders through their family’s genetics. While some of the congenital conditions are noticeable at birth, others don’t become evident until the child enters adolescence.

Common Pediatric Foot Deformities

Whether a foot deformity appears at birth or acquired later in life, certain pediatric conditions occur more than others. These include:

-Congenital Clubfoot: a common defect present at birth where one or both feet appear to curve inward, creating a “clubbed” look

-Hooked Foot: a birth defect in which one or both feet curve, making the toes point inward

-Pediatric Flatfoot: can emerge at birth or develop years later

-Cavus Foot: a condition in which the arches of the feet are too high, increasing the risk of injury

-Tarsal Coalition: when two or more tarsal bones in the middle or back of the foot fuse together

-Polydactyly: when a child is born with extra toes

-Apert’s Syndrome: when a child is born with “webbed” toes

-Polysyndactyly: when a child is born with an extra digit and webbing between their toes

-Juvenile Bunion: the result of the first metatarsal in the big toe sliding out of alignment, creating a bump on the side of the joint

-Brachymetatarsia: when a metatarsal bone is shorter than the others at birth

-Intoeing/Out-toeing: when a child’s toes develop inward or outward when they walk

-Vertical Talus: when the ankle bone didn’t develop correctly, causing the foot to point upward

-Accessory Navicular: when the bone in the center of the foot, above the arch, collapses

Treatment Options

Have no fear. There is a lot done medically to improve your child’s foot, ankle, or toe deformity, especially if caught early on. We work on a treatment plan unique to your child’s needs. Some of these treatments include:

-Physical therapy



-And in severe cases, surgery, which includes soft tissue and bone reconstruction or a gradual correction with an external fixation device


Minimizing your child’s risk of developing a foot deformity is easy if you pay attention to a couple of things. It’s all about what you’re putting on your child’s feet every day. As we’re sure you’re aware, children grow very fast. Their feet can grow two sizes in a mere six months. When buying shoes for your child, you should always account for their inevitable growth. Be careful not to get shoes that are too big, since this can cause the foot to slide forward and put excess pressure on the toes. Similarly, purchasing shoes too tight causes blisters, corns, calluses, and ingrown nails that can become infected. The rule of thumb is to make sure that there is about a finger’s width from the tip of the big toe to the end of the shoe.

Something else to consider is the fact that shoes wear out and lose their shock absorption. When this happens, replace the shoes immediately. Proper cushioning and arch support will decrease the risk of your child developing heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, and stress fractures. Additionally, children with flat feet may require an orthotic insert for maximum arch support and shock absorption.

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