Due to the extra copy of chromosome 21, those with Down's syndrome have unique physical characteristics, which can include broad feet with toes that point outwards, low muscle tone in the feet and loose ligaments. These identifying features can leave those with Down's syndrome prone to developing certain foot conditions. Here's an overview of three foot problems associated with Down's syndrome:
Weak muscle tone can cause the foot arches to collapse, and this can cause damage to your tendons and alter your posture as you change the way you walk to compensate for the added strain on your feet. Flat feet can cause foot pain and swelling, but a podiatrist can treat flat feet with custom-made orthotic insoles. The insoles take the strain off the rest of your feet by lifting the arches and providing additional support, which helps protect the surrounding ligaments.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that connects your heel to the ball of your foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band of tissue is too tight or strained, and in those with Down's syndrome, this can occur as a result of low muscle tone and broad feet pulling the plantar fascia too tight. Heel pain is a common symptom of plantar fasciitis, and the pain can worsen when you stretch your foot. Your podiatrist will show you gentle exercises to loosen the fascia and strengthen the muscles in your feet. In rare cases, podiatric surgery may be required to sever the tissue from your heel bone, which will bring relief from pain and tightness.
Muscle weakness is a common cause of toe walking, but when you don't take heel to toe steps, the joints in your feet and lower leg muscles experience strain and become rigid. Your podiatrist can treat tiptoe walking with an orthosis and exercises. An orthosis, which is a type of supportive splint, can be used to apply gentle pressure to the heel, which stimulates the nerves and encourages you to use your heel when you take a step. Exercises can be used to improve the range of movement in your feet and promote flexibility. As the exercises will involve the use of your heel, you will get used to engaging your heel over time.
Regular foot assessments can benefit those with Down's syndrome, as your podiatrist can look for signs of common foot problems associated with Down's syndrome and put a treatment plan in place before severe or long-term damage occurs.Share
17 November 2016
My son has always been an eager athletics competitor. He loves to run and jump, and especially loves to be the winner. He has been getting a lot of foot pain recently, and I wasn't sure if it was due to growing pains or if he'd been exercising too much. Luckily we found a great pediatric podiatrist who has been able to help him treat the pain and get some new foot inserts and shoes so that he doesn't keep having issues. This blog is all about podiatry for children and should be great for other parents with active kids.