Back-to-School means it's time to check your kids' feet.

Group of elementary school kids running at school, back viewI know every parent with kids going back to school has a neverending list of things to do as summer winds down. Picking out backpacks, arranging pick-up and childcare, figuring out hectic schedules... the list is truly neverending

While you're doing your back-to-school shopping, don't forget that new shoes for the year are just as crucial as the pencils, folders, and binders you buy. Additionally, custom or prefabricated shoe inserts (orthotics) may be an option for your children. 

Shoe inserts can help children avoid foot pain, foot deformities, and gait abnormalities. The feet affect other areas of the body, like the hips, knees, and back; as a result, custom orthotics will help with development and the prevention of pain in these areas while aligning the feet and ankles at the same time. 

How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Orthotics?

If your child has flat feet or other foot deformities, complains of foot pain, or suffers from gait abnormalities and trouble walking, they may be a candidate for orthotics or shoe inserts. For young athletes, shoe inserts offer additional support as they stay active and on their feet.

Orthotics for Children with Flat Feet

Custom orthotics are designed to be, well... customThat means they are made specifically for the patient with everything from shoe-size to gait in mind. For kids with flat feet, custom orthotics or even a less-expensive prefabricated insert (over-the-counter) can help avoid surgery to correct the deformity, as proper support is usually enough to effectively and permanently treat the condition.

At What Age Can Kids Get Orthotics?Patient at the podiatrist examination room trying silicone insoles on his feet, no faces shown

As children grow, deformities may arrise that are harder to treat once their growth plates have closed. Growth plates close when a child is done growing, usually around the age of 16-18 years old. The closing of the growth plates can be confirmed with a simple x-ray. It's crucial to give your child the support they need before this happens so that issues don't become permanent or harder to treat. 

Orthotics are suitable for children over six years old. Toddlers and young children have flat feet until they are between six and eight years old, which is when the arch forms and any deformities will start to become apparent.

How often do children need to replace their orthotics?

School-aged children go up about one full shoe size every year, but this can vary. It's important to measure your child's feet often, especially before buying them a new pair of shoes. Never purchase shoes without having your child trying them on first (unless the store has a return policy).

Children will need new orthotic devices as their feet grow. For kids whose growth plates are still open, prefabricated (over the counter) inserts are a more cost-effective option since most insurance companies only cover one or two pairs of custom orthotics every few years. That said, we can always request an exeption by writing a letter to your insurance company. Check out our article about insurance plans accepted at Freeland Foot and Ankle Clinic to learn more.

At our office, we have the ability to measure your children's feet and analyze their gait to determine if they need more support as well as ensuring that you know their exact shoe size.

How Are Pediatric Orthotics Made?

Custom orthotics are specially made just for your child. We use a high-tech foot scanning system to get exact, precise mesasurements of the patient's feet and to analyse the foot's structure. A physical exam is also conducted as well as an analysis of their gait. Once these scans are obtained, they are sent to an orthopedic lab who custom-makes the inserts based on the measurements and gait of the patient. In a few short weeks, the new custom orthotics will arrive and the patient will come back to the office to be fitted. 

If your child suffers from foot pain, treating the problem when they are still young is crucial. By addressing the problem before they are done growing, treatments are more likely to effectively and permanently fix the problem. Freeland Foot and Ankle Clinic prides itself in being Mid-Michigan's #1 pediatric podiatrist. We are ready and excited to help you, your little ones, and your entire family get back on their feet and back to life. Call us at 989-695-6788 to schedule your consultation today.

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