Orthotics – it might be a hot health topic amongst the parents at the school gate. So what are they and why would your child need them? Here’s your complete guide on what to look for and what you should know.
What are orthotics?
Orthotics are an externally applied device that are inserted into shoes to correct faulty foot mechanics. At Entire Podiatry we offer different types of orthoses to suit different circumstances.
Why do children need orthotics?
Foot health in children is often ignored and can lead to serious problems – not only in the feet but also in the legs and back. It’s imperative to take note of how your child’s foot is forming and developing as they age. Foot orthotics can help correct any emerging issues that your child might be suffering from.
What are the early signs that your child might need orthotics?
If you’ve noticed any of the following, your child should be assessed by a podiatrist in case they need orthotics:
- They have a hard time keeping up with their classmates
- Their feet turn inwards
- Their feet turn outwards
- Their feet are flat (low or no arches)
- They have high arches
What are the specific symptoms of foot problems that would require the use of orthotics?
Listen out if your child complains about the following, as this means it’s time to get them assessed by a podiatrist:
- Pain in the feet, ankles, knees, legs or back
- Pain while walking or running
- If your child constantly wants to be carried more than other children in the same age group
- If your child tells you that they do not wish to participate in sports
What kind of non-verbal cues should you look for?
Sometimes your kids are tough and won’t be so verbal about their niggling issues. In this instance, keep a look out for:
- If they favour one leg over another while walking
- If they limp or drag their feet while walking
- If they keep tripping over, are slightly clumsy or have a lack of coordination
- If they have any stiffness in the foot and ankle
- If they have a sudden change in the way that they walk
Also, when helping them to change their shoes, look out for:
- Abnormally shaped toes
- Ingrown toenails
- Bunions (a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe) or other foot deformities such as bone spurs (a bony lump that develops along bone edges)
If you have a family history of foot problems, is your child at risk?
Your child will be more likely to suffer from the same problems if there is a family history. Unfortunately, foot problems such as flat feet can be hereditary and are likely to be passed down. In this instance, if you do know of these problems in your family, it’s best to have your child assessed for the same issues.
How old does a child have to be to wear orthotics?
At 12 months, a child may be eligible to wear orthotics. However, this is a rare occurrence. The biggest milestone to really keep an eye on is once they turn two-years-old. If your child isn’t walking by then, then a podiatrist should assess them.
Are there any other specific age milestones that you should look out for?
As a minimum, it’s always good to do a check in on your child’s foot health at these age milestones:
- Age three (this is when children develop a more adult “heel-to-toe” gait)
- Age five (when starting school)
- Before beginning organised sports
How long does it take to get orthotics fitted?
As mentioned earlier, there are many different types of orthotics available including off-the-shelf, mid-range and custom made. Once the podiatrist has performed an assessment and discussed the most suitable option then the orthotics can be fitted in 1 to 2 weeks. It is recommended that your child returns one month after wearing them for a follow-up assessment.
At Entire Podiatry, we like to provide parents with the comfort of choice. That being said, custom foot orthotics (also known as total contact orthotics) are the most effective at hugging the arches of your child’s feet. Custom foot orthotics are custom made to suit their individual foot, evenly distributing weight-bearing forces across the whole foot.
At Entire Podiatry, we are experts in children’s foot health. If you are ready to have your child assessed for orthotics or simply have questions, we are offering FREE 15 minute assessments for all school aged children.*
*Redeemable at all Entire Podiatry clinics except for Robina Town Centre. Limited time only.