Foot Swelling and Warmth In Kids: Finishing With Part 4

bone tumor foot

Finishing the discussion from the last several posts, I would like to discuss one more condition in children that can cause swelling and warmth in the foot.

This final group of conditions is not necessarily unique to children, but many of the individual conditions in this group appear during childhood as opposed to adulthood.

While one never wants to discuss children and cancer in the same breath, the fact of the matter is that cancer can occur in kids.  These cancers can also occur in the lower leg and foot.  Fortunately, the incidence of pediatric cancers is extremely low, and they are rather rare.  Additionally, their appearance in the feet and ankles is rare, as many appear in the thigh and elsewhere.  However, this always needs to be a consideration when looking at warmth and swelling the foot and ankle.

There are multiple forms of malignant cancer that can afflict tissues in the foot, as well as multiple forms of benign cancer.  The more common of these uncommon diseases include malignant cancer of or in bone (osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma), and of muscle (rhabdomyosarcoma).  Benign tumors in this list include masses in bone (osteochondroma, enchondroma, bone cysts),  and in fibrous tissue, fat tissue, and blood vessels.

The more serious bone cancers tend to be seen in teenagers, while benign masses tend to be seen in younger children.  The symptoms often include pain, local warmth in the skin, and sometimes swelling or the appearance of a lump over the tumor site.  Diagnosis begins with a simple exam and x-rays, and further testing is performed if a tumor is suspected.  Malignant tumors can threaten the leg, and can potentially spread to other organs, including the lungs, leading to death.  Early treatment is vital to saving the affected leg and the child’s life.  Benign tumors usually cause little in the way of real problems, but may be painful depending on their size and location and sometimes they have to be removed.

While tumors in kid’s feet are uncommon, and malignant cancer is rare, these horrible diseases still need to be considered a possibility during any evaluation of warmth and swelling in kid’s feet and ankles (and lower leg), as should all of the other conditions mentioned in the last several posts.  For these reasons, swelling and warmth should never be assumed to be a part of the process of growing, and parents of children with new warmth and swelling in their feet/ankles should take their child to see a foot specialist for an evaluation.

Foot Swelling and Warmth In Kids: Part 3

child hurt ankle

Continuing the discussion from the last couple posts, I would like to discuss more conditions unique to children that can cause swelling and warmth in the foot.

Injuries such as sprains and strains are just as common in active kids as they are in adults, and generally kids can injure the same parts of the foot as adults.  These include the Achilles tendon, the outside of the ankle, joints in the ball of the foot, as well as tendons on either side of the foot.  The same healing reaction occurs in kids during these injuries as does occur in adults.  This includes warmth, swelling, bruising, and sometimes redness.

Fractures can also occur in kids, just as in adults, and can include all of the above symptoms as well as significant pain, an inability to bear weight, and sometimes excessive motion of part of the foot due to the unstable nature of a broken bone or bones,

What is more unique to children is the potential presence of a growth plate fracture.  Children’s bones are still growing, and most bones have a section of the bone that is composed of a line of cartilage that is slowly churning out bone tissue to essentially enlarge and elongate the growing bone.  These growth plates are located on one end or another of the bone (never in the middle), and are somewhat fragile.  When enough force or stress is applied to the bone during an injury, a fracture can occur.  The fracture can disrupt the growth plate and travel through the bone on either side of the growth plate.  Sometimes, the bone does not actually fracture, but the growth plate gets crushed nonetheless, resulting in damage.

Growth plate injuries are more serious than standard fractures because the damage can result in a partial or total disruption of the bone growth process.  This can lead to partial, but deformed bone growth, or no growth at all.  If the child is young enough, the deformity from the resulting abnormally short bone later in adolescence can be significant depending on which bone was injured.  Therefore, potential fractures in children should be more carefully assessed, as growth plate fractures need closer attention and proper treatment to maintain the health of the bone and ensure they heal properly.

I will finish this discussion next week on one final serious group of conditions that can cause swelling and warmth in the child’s foot.

Foot Swelling and Warmth in Kids: Part 2

foot swelling in kids

Continuing on from my last post, I would like to discuss another serious condition that can cause swelling and warmth in a child’s foot.

There are a group of diseases in the body in which the immune system, the body’s defense force, is involved in the destruction of normal tissue.  Called autoimmune diseases, the main mechanism in these conditions is the active damage of normal body tissue by an immune system run amuck.  Joint tissue can be affected by some of these conditions, and a common disease that is a part of this group of illnesses is called rheumatoid arthritis.  When this condition is seen in children, it is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).

JRA can start as young as 6 months of age, and usually begins before the age of 16.  It can involve many joints in the body, a smaller group of joints, or only a few.  The initial symptoms can include a swollen joint, a new rash, a spiking fever, or simply limping.  As the condition evolves, the joints may become red, warm, swollen, stiff, and the child may begin to limp or refuse to participate in activities.  More wide-spread cases can result in the child looking sick and pale, with high fevers and a rash that comes and goes with the fever.  Eye problems can also develop, that may or may not have symptoms.

The diagnosis of JRA can be made through multiple means, including blood tests, organ swelling, x-rays, and joint fluid analysis.

In the foot, rheumatoid arthritis of any variety can result in devastating deformity and joint destruction over time.  If the immune reaction against joint tissue is not controlled, eventually the joints can become worn and deformed.  There can be a slower rate of growth, and a child in chronic pain from this condition can have poor activity desire and poor school performance.

There are medicines that treat JRA just like the treatment of adult rheumatoid arthritis.  These vary per symptom severity, and many milder cases of JRA actually can go into remission for many years without any  chronic joint changes.

If your child develops joint pain and swelling, especially if a fever and/or rash is present and several joints are inflamed, it is important to have them evaluated for potential causes, which may include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.