Does My Child Need Orthotics?
First, there are several clues that can indicate that a child may need orthotics:
- The best way is to look to see if the wear of your child’s shoes is evenly distributed, or if they appear to be worn more in a specific area. If the latter, this is often a sign that the load under the foot is not well distributed and that it may be necessary to stabilize and redistribute weight with foot orthotics.
- As many of the conditions for foot orthotics are hereditary, genetics play a role – if you have orthotics, it’s more likely your child may need them as well.
- Poor posture in a young patient can be a good indicator.
- Finally, if you child indicates – verbally or non-verbally – that they have foot pain or lower body pain, it may be a sign their gait is out of alignment.
The next step is to get the opinion of a professional, through a biomechanical gait analysis. It’s a low-stress test for both parents and children.
My child has orthotics. How often do they need to be changed?
The general recommendation is an annual exam for young patients, except when they are experiencing a major growth spurt (which can sometimes be accompanied by a significant change in the size of their feet). Children’s feet between 1 and 3 years old grow 1.5 mm per month, or about 1.5″ (18 mm) per year. In children aged 3 to 6, it’s approximately about 1/2″ (12mm) per year and in children aged 6 to 10, a little under that. As with clothing, shoes and accessories, growth spurts are the main reason a child might need new foot orthotics.
Often when children need to changes shoes, it may be a sign to change orthotics – but not always.
If the initial symptoms resurface and a child wearing foot orthotics tires quickly, this is a good way to know that their orthosis is no longer suitable for their foot. Pain or discomfort can also be warning signs, to which special attention should be paid.
Observing your child is one thing, but it’s recommended to observe the orthotics as well.
Orthotics may be for life – or may not be. As the body grows, it changes, and while many children continue to rely on orthotics for proper lower body health, some may grow out of it. Your practitioner will be the best resource for determining the optimal outcomes for your children’s health.