We see many teenagers at our clinic—largely because teens’ bodies are in a constant state of change, and their feet are no exception. Here are some key issues to be aware of:
This is by far the most common reason for my seeing teens. Growing pains typically occur earlier in girls whereas boys can suffer from them until they are 18.
The biggest challenge for parents is to know when to ignore the pain or when to treat it or seek advice. It’s normal for teenagers to feel general aches in their feet and legs, but as a rule, any pain or discomfort that lasts longer than two weeks needs to be checked. What does concern me is the number of teens who arrive at the clinic after having had pain for a number of months—to the point that they are avoiding activity. If this is the case with your teen, I strongly suggest visiting a podiatrist.
Foot and leg complaints
The majority of our teenage patients have a combination of factors that contribute to their discomfort. However, the biggest cause of pain is a lack of flexibility in their muscles. This is due to the bones growing so rapidly (particularly in the legs) that the muscles and tendons can’t keep up!
Stretching the calves to loosen them can help. The insertion point of the calf muscle is the base of the heel. If the calf muscle is tight, which it normally is in growing people, it can create tension and inflammation on the bottom of the foot.
This extremely common and embarrassing issue is caused by the effect of hormones and by changes occurring in the teenager’s body. In most cases, the teens grow out of it. Until then, try these remedies:
- Put shoes out in the sun
This will help to kill any microbes present and will reduce the smell.
- Try spraying the feet with methylated spirits
I know this seems a bit strange, but the alcohol in the spirits will reduce the level of moisture in the shoes and also help prevent fungal infections like tinea. Dab the spirits on with a cotton bud or spray with a spray bottle. (Don’t put on exposed skin, this will sting!)