Kids' weight can cause foot problems

December 30, 2010

11-year-old Ben Melnick loves sports, he plays nearly every day and almost every sport.

"I always wanted to be a baseball player for the Phillies," Ben said.

But as active as he is, Ben also struggles with his weight. In fact, despite good shooting skills, he got passed over by the coach of his community basketball team.

"He noticed I was the last one up and down the court," Ben said.

"He really can't perform to the maximum of his capability," Ben's father Bill said.

Ben's slower speed is due to his weight, but also the pain those extra pounds can cause.

"I come home just aching pain in my feet and legs," Ben said.

And he says it also started hurting his school performance.

"I've come to school a few days mad; I just don't want to be there because there's a lot of walking around," Ben said.

Podiatrist Dr. Eric Ricefield says as more Americans become overweight, he's seeing more patients including children complaining of foot problems.

"Arch pain, heel pain, fatigue or 'my legs are tired,'" Dr. Ricefield said.

And because kids are still growing, the extra weight can cause permanent damage. But fixing it creates a catch-22. You want kids to be active so they lose weight, but often times the pain makes it difficult.

In Ben's case, Dr. Ricefield is using orthotics so that the weight on his feet will be distributed properly.

Fixing problems can be as simple as using orthotics or having kids change activities.

However, severe cases may require surgery.

Thankfully for Ben, the orthotics seem to be doing the trick. He says his feet feel less flat and there's no more pain. He's also lost a little weight and he's determined to stay active and to make that basketball team.

"I'll make it next year," Ben said.

Dr. Ricefield also says for all kids, if they're wearing their sneakers or any shoe every day, they should be replace shoes every three to six months.

Here's another tip: If you notice the soles of your child's shoes are worn unevenly talk to your pediatrician to see if your child should see a podiatrist.

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