From a Podiatry perspective children cannot be treated like smaller versions of their parents, and neither can their feet. Foot orthotics for children present a unique opportunity to control the growth and development of the foot.
You may be familiar with orthotic therapy because you may have a diagnosis or problem related to your feet. Many common foot problems are thought to have a genetic component and your child’s feet play a crucial role in their development. This is especially true when considering the growing number of children increasing their activity levels and entering organized sports at a young age.
The possibility of improved outcomes when your child is skeletally mature, and the prevention of future problems are great reasons to consider having your child evaluated for custom foot orthotics.
Research has shown that the early use of foot orthotics in children can have beneficial results that can be seen clinically and on an X-ray. Problems with foot development and biomechanics can eventually lead to problems higher up in the ankles, knees and hips.
Some common problems that can be addressed with a foot orthotic include flatfoot, the overpronated foot (Ankles turning in), torsional deformities of the lower leg, juvenile bunions and other biomechanical inefficiencies of the foot.
In all likelihood your child will adapt wonderfully to his or her new orthotics. As we know, the ligaments and bone structures of a child have a unique ability to adapt to new or corrected positions, and their feet are no different. A custom foot orthotic is different than other off-the- shelf orthotics in that it is precisely calibrated to your child’s foot. This means that the orthotic is designed based on your child’s foot type and weight to provide just the right amount of flexibility. Tolerance issues in children are extremely rare.
When your child is undergoing rapid growth, his or her orthotics will need to be replaced approximately every two shoe sizes, or every one to two years.
Re-evaluation of your child as he or she develops will often lead to changes in the orthotic prescription .Just as your child experiences unique clinical situations, his or her orthotic is a unique and custom device. Some problems can be prevented without life-long wear, some developmental problems may require longer-term use, and some children would simply benefit from prevention their whole lives.
Consider the use of eyeglasses in children. The concern that a child will become dependent on the prescription eyewear is not a valid reason to dismiss the correction needed to improve visual function. In addition The Podiatrist may prescribe exercises for the foot to give your child every opportunity to develop a muscularly sound foot.
If your child does not complain about any foot pain but obvious problems are observed by the parent, chances are the child will not just outgrow it. To treat the child with the proper tools to lead a future normal, pain-free life is an individual decision that every parent has to make with the assistance of their health care provider.
Considerations in this decision should include the preventative payoffs for instituting such therapy weighed against any potential down-side, which is often primarily financial.
Get started on resolving your child’s foot problem today.
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Neglecting your child’s foot health invites problems in other parts of the body, such as the legs and back.
Foot health begins in childhood because your child’s feet must carry him or her for a lifetime. Your child’s life is certain to be happier and more enjoyable if you have your child develop strong, healthy feet as he or she grows into adulthood.
In the first year, a child’s foot grows rapidly reaching almost half their adult foot size. The Podiatrist considers the first year to be the most important in regards to development.
To help ensure normal growth, parents should allow their baby to kick and stretch his or her feet and make sure shoes and socks do not squeeze their toes.
Children should not wear shoes until they can walk, so avoid pram shoes, which are normally soft, and usually made to match outfits. For babies, avoid tightly wrapped blankets that prevent kicking and leg movement. Walking barefoot, where it is safe, is also good for children. However, children’s feet are vulnerable to deformity from any ill-fitting footwear or hosiery until the bones are completely formed at about 18 years of age. In addition, socks made from natural materials are better for your child’s feet than stretch-fit socks.
When buying shoes for your child, the shape of the shoe and the toe area should be wide and round, allowing for toes to move and spread. It is also important for the shoe to have a lace or a buckle, without this your child’s toes will claw to hold the shoe on. The heel of the shoe should not be too high, as high heels can also result in foot deformity.
Parents are encouraged to contact The Podiatrist for further consultation on their child’s growing, active feet. Having strong, healthy helps children to walk, run, and play, which is why it is important to take extra precautions to protect their feet in order to provide them a lifetime of healthy feet.