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Dallas Podiatry Works

Does Your Child Limp when He or She Walks?

Pediatric Foot CareAll expecting parents hope that their children will enter the world without foot health concerns, however, congenital disorders of the feet do occur.  Tarsal coalition is one such condition that typically results from improper development of the feet in utero when certain bones do not form as intended.  It is interesting to note that while the issue is present at birth, most individuals do not experience any difficulties until they are older.  Symptoms often appear between the ages of nine and sixteen.  Still others experience no effects until they are adults.  This condition has been known to develop later in life as the result of an injury.  Arthritic conditions and infection have also been cited as possible causes. 

What is a tarsal coalition?

A tarsal coalition occurs when unwanted tissue, bone, or cartilage is present between the tarsal bones.  These bones are at the rear of the foot and include the heel bone.  Since the tarsal bones are critical to the inner workings of the feet, this condition can cause decreased range of motion and discomfort, and it is possible for both feet to be affected.

What are the symptoms of tarsal coalition?

During the process of bone maturation, symptoms of this condition may begin to appear.  If you notice your child limping, it is always cause for concern—it may also be a symptom of this congenital disorder.  One of the best ways to monitor your son or daughter’s overall foot health is by their level of activity.  If it shifts from highly active to limited activity, there is a reason.  Complaints of legs that feel tired and stiff, or spasms of the foot muscles are other signs that something is wrong. 

As a parent, it can be difficult to gauge the severity of a problem.  Remember, you’re not alone!  The team at Dallas Podiatry Works will be with you every step of the way to diagnose and treat your child’s condition.

How is tarsal coalition diagnosed and treated?

Since symptoms are often delayed until adulthood, diagnosis can be challenging.  A thorough history of symptoms will be critical, so take time to write down information such as date of onset and how long pain has been experienced.  After the foot exam, an image of your affected foot will be taken.  This can be an x-ray or other diagnostic tool

Conservative treatments are always the first option and they include physical therapy which will often include home exercises, anti-inflammatory medication for the pain, prescription orthotics, and casting.  Eliminating movement of the foot will rest the affected areas and provide an opportunity for healing.  If muscle spasms are a primary symptom, anesthesia medication may be administered to the area to quiet them.  Surgery is always a last resort, but may be necessary if symptoms cannot be controlled through more moderate means.

Foot health concerns can affect the whole family.  The skilled and professional team at Dallas Podiatry Works will walk with you on your journey to end your child’s foot and ankle pain.  You’re not alone!  Call today and find relief by scheduling an appointment.  Drs. Brook and Northcutt look forward to serving you in our Dallas and Plano, TX offices.


Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.