Orthotics – a retail shoe specialist’s worst nightmare, but an individual’s greatest tool. So what are they and why would your child need them? Below is a comprehensive guide on the things you should be aware of before making a decision.
What are Orthotics?
Orthotics are an external, artificial device that are placed in footwear to improve foot mechanics and function. At Sutherland Podiatry Centre we offer a diverse range of orthoses to cater for different circumstances.
Why do children need orthotics?
Foot and ankle health in children is generally disregarded or ignored and as result serious problems can ensue within the back, hip, knees and lower leg. Therefore, it is very important to be mindful of how your child’s foot is developing as they grow. In this way, orthotics can be a great tool to utilise for any surfacing issues that your child might be complaining from.
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What are the early signs that your child might need orthotics?
If you have noticed any of the following, your child should be assessed by a podiatrist in the event they require orthotics:
- They struggle with maintaining pace with their buddies on the field
- Great mobility in their feet … floppy, floppy joints
- Their feet collapse on the inner side aka foot is falling off the cliff image
- Their feet turn in
- Their feet turn out
- High arches or low to no arches in the midfoot
What are the specific symptoms of foot problems that would require the use of orthotics?
If your child is reporting to one of the following, it implies a podiatric consult is needed:
- Pain in the feet, ankles, knees, legs or back
- Pain while performing any bodyweight activity
- If your child requests to repetitively to be carried more than other children in the same age group
- If your child shies away or argues that they do not wish to participate in sports
Non – verbal cues to be cautious of:
As parents we wish for our children to be strong, fierce individuals, able to withstand any pain. However, we run into the problem of not hearing any verbal complaints that masks their troubling issues. Thus, we need to be aware of the following:
- Do they favour one leg over another while moving
- Do they limp or drag their feet whilst walking
- Do they trip over because of a lack of coordination or slightly drowsy
- Do they have any stiffness within the foot and ankle
- Do they have an abrupt change in the way that they walk
Furthermore, when assisting your children with putting shoes/ taking them off, look for:
- Abnormally shaped toes
- Ingrown toe nails
- Bunions or other foot deformities such as bony lumps that develop along bone edges
If you have a family history of foot problems, is your child at risk?
Nine times out of 10, your child is highly predisposed to suffering from the same issues if there is a family connection. These include, ingrown toe nails, arthritis and flat feet. In this instance, if you are aware of these issues, it is beneficial to have your child screened by a podiatrist for the same conditions.
At what age does a child have to be to wear orthotics?
12 months is an eligible age for a child to wear orthotics, though this is a very rare occurrence. A key milestone to be watchful from is once the child turns two years of age. A podiatrist should assess the child if they are not walking at that time
Are there any other age specific milestones that you should be mindful of?
Generally, keeping up to date with your child’s foot health as they have growth spurt is a good place to start. Some milestones include:
- Age three … this is when the child adopts a “heel to toe” gait, similar to an adult
- Age five … when they commence school
- Before starting organised sports
How long does it take to get orthotics fitted?
As discussed in the beginning, there are various orthotics available that can be tailored to your child’s needs, including off the shelf, mind range and custom made. After a podiatric consult that involves a full biomechanical assessment and detailed discussion on an appropriate device then the orthotics can be fitted in 2 – 3 weeks. It is highly recommended that your child returns after two weeks of wearing them for a follow-up assessment to ensure they are COMFORTABLE!
At Sutherland Podiatry Centre, we like to provide parents with the comfort of choice, and in light of that custom foot orthotics are the most effective and efficient device to aid with your child’s feet. As they are designed to capture their individual foot and evenly distributing forces across the entire foot. If this blog makes you think we can help your child, please call us on 9542 3491.
The Team at Sutherland Podiatry Centre