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.
Call The Podiatrist.
In many cases, there is a predisposition for injuries that occur in adolescent athletes. The following list are some tell-tale signs that may help to prevent future injuries to a child.
1. The child tends to stumble or even trip while walking or running.
2. One shoulder is lower than the other.
3. The hips are asymmetrical when walking or running.
4. The knees point inward or outward rather than straight ahead.
5. The feet turn in or out while walking or running.
6. There is an early heel-off with all the weight going to the ball of the feet.
7. When the child stands, the arches are very high or extremely flat.
8. The child complains of night cramps that wake him or her in the night or muscle spasms in the feet and legs.
9. The child has noticeable hammertoes, bunions, or bony enlargements in the forefoot or rearfoot.
10. The wear pattern on the child’s shoes appears to be worn down on the outside or inside.
If some, or even a few, of these signs are present, the child should be professionally evaluated as prevention is the best form of treatment. It is the group of pre-teens and teens who play two or more sports that I am most concerned with as there is a greater chance of overuse injuries. There is also a greater chance of injury to the epiphysis, or growth center of bone. Injury to the epiphysis of the heel, knee, or hip can cause a disturbance in the bone formation.
The growing pains of children are at times due to the pain of the apophyseal (heel growth plate) injury. Many of the gait abnormalities can be helped by stretching and strengthening exercises, conditioning programs, ice therapy, cross training, and biomechanical orthotic shoe inserts which should control the problem and allow the child to continue with his or her respective sport.
If you are concerned about the way your child/ren walk or run, or if they have any problems, call The Podiatrist.
Growing pains in younger athletes are common occurrences. Being able to recognize which aches and pains may be related to growing and which may be of concern, however, is not always that easy.
All kids are going to grow, and some grow more rapidly than others. A lot of development and growth happens from age 10 through high school. Some kids are early bloomers; some are late bloomers. No matter when a kid begins and ends his or her growth spurt, many of the aches and pains associated with growth can occur in the same general area.
Two common areas are the knee — specifically the area of the tibial tuberosity — and the heel of the foot. The tibial tuberosity is the spot located just below the knee joint where the patella tendon inserts itself onto the tibia. The area of the foot at the base of the heel is where the Achilles tendon inserts itself to the calcaneus bone.
The rate of growth and activity level can sometimes determine how much pain a young athlete might have with these growth spurts.
To put it into better perspective, a person can think of the patellar and Achilles tendons as rubber bands. When bones grow, these rubber bands stretch. When there is rapid growth, the bands can’t always grow or stretch as quickly as the bones do. Therefore, you get an increased amount of tension and pain in the areas where the muscle tendon attaches to the bone.
Now factor in activity level. In a young athlete who is playing a number of sports, these growing pains can become quite severe because of the extra stress placed on these two areas. A less active individual might not have as many aches and pains.
So how do you treat the minor aches and pains, and what can happen if they go untreated and continue to get worse?
The most conservative treatment for the general pains is simple: see The Podiatrist, rest, ice and stretching.
For active individuals, finding time to rest is extremely important. Having young athletes in activities every night of the week and on the weekends is a recipe for disaster. Young athletes need time to rest, especially if they are experiencing some general knee or heel pain because of growing.
If young athletes try to push through that pain, they can end up with more severe injuries – usually starting in the form of tendonitis. If the stress and tension become too great, an avulsion fracture can develop in those areas. Basically, the overstressed tendon will start to pull away from the bone and take some of the bone with it. This type of injury will really limit the person’s level of activity.
But really, it all comes down to being smart about it. Young athletes and parents of young athletes need to understand that rest is important and make sure rest days are exactly that.
Being smart and addressing the minor aches and pains with some early conservative treatment can make a huge difference in keeping a young athlete healthy while he or she is growing at a rapid rate.
See The Podiatrist for any of your foot problems.