Q: My 13-year-old son has been complaining of foot pain lately. None of his shoes seem comfortable and it’s gotten so bad, he can only wear his Crocs. What’s going on?
A: Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong; if it’s interfering with his activities, you need to talk to his doctor. There are a few things that might be happening here. To figure out what’s going on, the doctor should ask where the pain is located, if it hurts when he’s not putting any weight on his foot, and if the pain is worse with activity.
Although juvenile bunions are more common in teen girls, boys can also get them. They are usually a firm swelling that appears on the outside of the big toe (often Mom has them too). Bunions are typically associated with flat feet and a youngster who is loose jointed. Shoes and shoe adaptations (orthotics) may help. Or the problem could be painful callouses or even inflamed swelling over the second toe, which may require shoe adaptations. Depending on the cause, these problems may need more aggressive treatment and, although rare in children, even surgery. Finally, it’s possible your son has caused some stress fractures of the foot bones with aerobic sports activity. If that’s the case, rest and sometimes walking casts are needed.