Orthotics for Kids: Everything You Need to Know

orthotics diagram showing foot above orthotics

Key Takeaways:

  • Orthotics, or shoe inserts, can support, align, or correct biomechanical foot problems and manage pain caused by foot conditions.
  • Children with persistent foot or leg pain, deformities such as flat feet or high arches, or conditions like Sever’s disease or Osgood-Schlatter disease should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine if orthotics are appropriate.
  • Orthotics can benefit kids by correcting gait abnormalities, reducing pain and discomfort, improving posture, enhancing balance and stability, improving mobility, and preventing further damage or complications.
  • Orthotics can be used by children of various ages, and the decision to use them should be based on the individual needs and conditions of the child.
  • Choosing the right orthotics involves considering factors such as custom or prefabricated orthotics, material, comfort and fit, and activity level. Regular evaluation and adjustment of orthotics are important as the child’s feet adapt to the changes.
  • The cost of orthotics varies and depends on the type and clinic, ranging from $100 to $1500 or more. There are alternative treatment methods available, including physical therapy, footwear modifications, taping or bracing, lifestyle changes, and surgery in rare cases.

While it’s true that orthotics can be a great solution for several foot conditions, that does not mean that you should head to a sports shop right away and get your kids a pair. If your kid is experiencing problems on their feet and lower limbs that affect their walking, running and other daily activities, orthotics are not the ultimate and automatic solution.

In this piece, you’re going to learn more about orthotics and see whether your kids need them or not.

What are orthotics?

Orthotics, or shoe inserts, are medical devices that are designed to support, align, or correct biomechanical foot problems that may affect how you walk, stand or run. They can also help manage pain that is caused by several foot conditions like bursitis or plantar fasciitis.

These shoe inserts are typically made of various materials like foam, plastic, or metal and can be prefabricated or customised.

Custom-made orthotics are created based on a detailed assessment of the individual’s foot or body shape, gait, and other factors, while prefabricated orthotics are ready-made and can be professionally adjusted to fit the individual’s needs.

Should kids get orthotics?

In general, it is recommended that children with persistent foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back pain or discomfort, or with foot deformities such as flat feet, high arches, or clubfoot, be evaluated by a medical professional such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist to determine if orthotics are appropriate.

Below are only some of the benefits of wearing orthotics:

  • Correcting gait abnormalities
  • Reducing pain and discomfort
  • Improving posture
  • Enhancing balance and stability
  • Improve mobility
  • Prevent further damage or complications

It is important to note, however, that orthotics should not be your first line of treatment for your children with foot or leg pain, and that they should be prescribed and fitted only by medical professionals like us here at Watsonia Podiatry.

What age should kids get orthotics?

There’s really no specific age at which children should start using orthotics. Orthotics can be used by children of various ages, from kids with developmental foot deformities to older children and teenagers with sports injuries or chronic foot or leg pain.

The decision to use kids’ orthotics, however, must be determined by healthcare professionals like us podiatrists and should be based on the individual needs and conditions of your child.

If you’re worried that your child might have foot problems that affect his or her daily activities, have them assessed by an expert as early as possible. Below are only some of the conditions that orthotics can help treat or prevent.

7 Conditions that Require Orthotics for Kids

If your child is suffering from any of these conditions, bring him or her to a podiatrist for assessment and see whether orthotics are needed to help treat their condition.

Flat feet

Flat feet occur when the arches of the feet do not develop properly, causing the foot to lie flat on the ground. This condition, if not managed early on, can lead to pain and discomfort, as well as other foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and shin splints.

Orthotics can help treat flat feet by providing additional support to the arch of the foot. These shoe inserts also help in redistributing the weight and pressure on the foot, helping to align the foot and relieve pain and discomfort.

High arches

High arches, also known as cavus foot, occur when the arch of the foot is raised, causing the foot to bear weight on the heel and ball of the foot, which causes foot pain and instability.

Orthotics for high arches can be designed to provide additional arch support, as well as cushioning and shock absorption to the heel and ball of the foot. They can also be used to help correct any underlying foot imbalances or abnormalities that may be contributing to the high arches.

Overpronation

Pronation refers to the movement of your feet, your gait, and weight distribution as you walk or run. To put it simply, pronation means that your feet tend to roll inward when you walk, so your weight tends to be more inside on your foot as well.

Overpronation, as the name suggests, is when the feet roll inward excessively, which can cause pain or discomfort in the feet, ankles, knees, or hips.

This is where orthotics come into play. These custom-fitted insoles help your feet stay in the right form as you walk or run, while also providing structure and support to your feet.

Excess Supination

Supination is the opposite of pronation. And if your feet roll outward excessively, you likely have excess supination. This condition can lead to a range of foot problems, including ankle sprains, stress fractures, shin splints, and instability.

Much like with overpronation, orthotics can help correct supination by putting your feet in the right position as you walk and run, while also providing support to your feet.

Sever’s disease

Severs disease is a common condition in children that causes heel pain due to inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. Orthotics can help to reduce stress on the heel and improve symptoms.

Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Severs disease is a common cause of heel pain in children and adolescents, especially those who are active in sports and other physical activities. It occurs when the growth plate at the back of the heel becomes inflamed.

If your child is experiencing heel pains, bring your kid to a doctor for assessment and treatment. The doctor may give your child anti-inflammatory medications to help minimise inflammation and reduce the pain.

Orthotics, on the other hand, also helps with the management of pain by providing additional cushioning and support to the heels. The orthotics work by redistributing the weight and pressure on the foot, helping to reduce the stress on the inflamed growth plate.

Osgood Schlatters Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease, also known as Osgood-Schlatter syndrome, is a common condition that affects the knees, typically during adolescence. It is characterised by pain, swelling, and tenderness at the front of the knee, just below the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone. Osgood-Schlatter disease is commonly associated with physical activity and overuse, such as during sports or other repetitive knee movements.

Orthotics can be used as a part of the treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease. Orthotics can help reduce stress and strain on the patellar tendon and the affected knee joint by providing additional cushioning and support to the foot arches, promoting proper foot and leg alignment, and distributing forces more evenly during movement. This can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease and facilitate healing. In some cases, orthotics may also be used in conjunction with other conservative treatments such as rest, ice, physical therapy, and pain medication as part of a comprehensive management plan for Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Kohlers Disease

Kohler’s disease, also known as avascular necrosis of the navicular bone, is a rare condition that affects the foot, specifically the navicular bone, which is located on the inside of the midfoot. It occurs when the blood supply to the navicular bone is disrupted, leading to bone tissue death and eventual collapse of the bone. This can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty walking.

Orthotics can be used as a part of the treatment for Kohler’s disease to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Orthotics can provide support and cushioning to the foot, reducing pressure on the affected navicular bone and alleviating pain during weight-bearing activities. They can also help improve foot alignment and redistribute forces more evenly across the foot, which may help reduce stress on the affected bone. Additionally, orthotics can provide stability and improve gait mechanics, which can help reduce further damage to the navicular bone and promote healing.

It’s important to note that treatment for Kohler’s disease may also include other conservative measures such as rest, immobilisation, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as close monitoring by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist. In some cases, more aggressive treatments such as casting, bracing, or surgery may be necessary. The use of orthotics should be determined on a case-by-case basis and be part of a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual needs of the patient. You can learn more about Kohler’s disease here.

example of the impact of orthotics

How to Choose the Right Orthotics for Your Child

The best orthotics for your child must be chosen by qualified experts. That’s why we always advise that you bring your child to an expert like a podiatrist or an orthopedic specialist to be evaluated. This is to determine whether orthotics are appropriate or not and also to determine the type and level of support that is needed.

Normally, the orthotics that we recommend will vary depending on several factors:

Custom or prefabricated orthotics

Depending on your child’s needs, we may recommend custom-made orthotics or prefabricated orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are designed specifically for your child’s feet and condition, while prefabricated orthotics come in standard sizes and may require adjustment.

Material

Orthotics can be made of a variety of materials, including foam, rubber, plastic, or carbon fibre. The material used may depend on your child’s condition and the level of support he or she needs.

Comfort and fit

The orthotics must fit snugly inside the shoes of your kids and not cause any pain or discomfort. Ideally, your child should be able to wear them for extended periods without any issues.

Activity level

We also consider your child’s activity level when choosing orthotics. For example, if your child participates in sports, they may require orthotics that provide additional support and shock absorption.

Keep in mind that the treatment of your child’s condition doesn’t end with wearing orthotics the first time. It is important to have your kids’ orthotics evaluated and adjusted regularly as their feet adapt to the changes caused by the orthotics.

How much are orthotics for kids?

The price of orthotics in Australia may vary from clinic to clinic and will also depend on what type of orthotics your child needs.

Customised orthotics, for example, is significantly more expensive than off-the-shelf orthotics because of the additional proceedings involved. Custom ones can range from $400 to $1500 or even more while the prefabricated ones can range from $100 to $700 plus.

Normally, aside from the actual orthotics, these prices are already inclusive of the following:

  • Initial consultation
  • Biomechanical assessment
  • Making an impression of your feet (for custom orthotics)
  • Fitting and follow-up

If you’re buying off-the-shelf orthotics, consult with a podiatrist first to make sure you’re getting the right one for your kids.

Great Alternatives to Orthotics for Kids

Aside from wearing shoe orthotics, there are other methods that we, and other medical professionals, use to treat your kid’s foot conditions. These methods are used either alongside orthotics or not.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help to improve muscle strength and flexibility, which can reduce pain and improve function. A physical therapist can also provide exercises and stretches that can help to address specific foot or leg conditions.

Footwear modifications

Sometimes, simply modifying the child’s footwear can provide the necessary support and cushioning to relieve pain and improve function. This can include shoes with appropriate arch support, cushioned insoles, or heel cups.

Taping or bracing

Taping or bracing can provide temporary support for the feet or legs and can be helpful for certain conditions such as flat feet or overpronation.

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, avoiding high-impact activities, or using proper body mechanics during physical activity can help reduce pain and improve the function of your kid’s feet.

Surgery

In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct severe foot or leg conditions that cannot be treated with other methods.

Visit Watsonia Podiatry for Kids Orthotics

If you think your kids are experiencing a lingering pain in their feet and lower limbs, or there’s something wrong with how they walk or run, come visit us for a proper assessment.

We’ll determine what foot condition your kids may be suffering from and whether they need to wear orthotics or not. If they do need to wear orthotics, we’ll recommend the best suitable option for your kids and fit them accordingly.

We may require follow-up assessments to check the improvements on your kid’s feet and adjust the orthotics. Book an appointment today!

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