When people think of orthotics, they usually envision a senior with existing foot problems or an athlete with injuries. While seniors and athletes use orthotics, these aren’t the only use for them—or the only group of people who can benefit from them! Custom orthotics can help patients of all ages support their arch, treat various foot conditions, combat general foot pain, and prevent future injuries. Children especially benefit from custom orthotics, using orthotics as a sturdy and supportive foundation for their developing feet. Investing in the orthotics for your children is one of the best decisions you can make to protect their feet from childhood to adulthood. The big question is, however, what are the best orthotics for your kids?
What are orthotics?
To the untrained eye, orthotics may look like another pair of insoles (also called shoe inserts). However, while most insoles can be purchased over the counter and are standardized based on shoe size, orthotics are custom-made for each patient. Advanced technology and an experienced podiatrist can help families choose and create orthotics that are best for each foot.
There is no standard material used to make the best orthotics. Because orthotics are designed to address a wide variety of foot issues (including over-pronation, collapsed arches, and poor foot-leg alignment), a podiatrist will choose the material that will best accomplish the goal at hand.
What problems can orthotics treat or prevent?
If your custom orthotics are fit and designed correctly, you can find pain relief and recovery for a variety of common foot problems. Some of these problems include:
For most foot-specific issues, treatment with custom orthotics is helpful regardless of the patient’s age. Children, however, are uniquely poised to benefit from orthotic therapy early on since their feet are still developing. Orthotics can correct some types of deformities before they become permanent.
If foot-related problems are not corrected early, they can affect more than just the feet. Leg-length discrepancies, flat feet (or too-high arches), and other issues can create pain and even degenerative issues in the spine, hips, and knees. These issues often severely impact a person’s quality of life, as they interfere with mobility and often worsen over time.
When should you get custom orthotics for your children?
If you think your child may have issues with their feet, getting evaluated early on is crucial. After all, the foot grows faster than the rest of the human body! Waiting a few weeks, months, or even years can present more complex and severe foot issues for children. To avoid foot problems becoming permanent and negatively impacting biomechanics for life, children with foot deformities (even minor ones) need early intervention.
But how early is too early? Most children develop arches as they grow, and the legs undergo significant changes in the early years. The lower legs will gradually rotate to align the feet with the knees to create an optimal gait. With that said, ordering kids orthotics when your little one is learning how to walk wouldn’t be effective.
The experts at Arizona Foot Doctors recommend getting orthotics around the age of six or seven. While development does vary among children, in many cases, those who are showing signs of foot issues or deformities at this age are more likely to need therapeutic intervention before the age of 8.
If your child is very active or participates in sports, having them fitted for the best orthotics early on is especially important. Orthotics will help improve gait and mobility. Additionally, for active children, pain or degenerative changes in the spine, hips, and knees may start earlier than in children who are more sedentary.
How long do custom orthotics last?
As a general rule, custom orthotics last longer than over-the-counter inserts (better materials, design, etc.) Unless your child outgrows a pair and needs to be re-fitted, most pairs of kids custom orthotics last two to three years. Orthotics for adults typically last four to five years. In most cases, the prescribing podiatrist will be able to tell you how to determine if your child’s orthotics are worn out to the point of needing to be replaced.
At Arizona Foot Doctors, we encourage families to schedule an annual healthy foot check-up. During this appointment, we’ll conduct a gentle evaluation of your child’s feet and the condition of their custom orthotics. Ask about our family appointment scheduling!
Are orthotics covered by insurance?
In most cases, orthotics are covered by insurance, as they have the potential to prevent more serious foot issues and other health problems down the line. However, even if your child’s orthotics are not covered by insurance, they are still a worthy investment. The cost of orthotics for kids vary but are relatively small investments.
Visit Arizona Foot Doctors today
If your children are experiencing issues or discomfort with their feet, early intervention with the best orthotics has the potential to save your family time, money, and pain in the future. With a pair of physician-made orthotics from Arizona Foot Doctors, avoiding debilitating foot issues will be as easy as slipping insoles into your shoes. If you think your child may benefit from custom orthotics, be sure to schedule your appointment today. We often have same-day or next-day appointments available!