In comparison to adults, children’s feet can be quite flexible due to the incomplete development of the bones, joints and muscles. As a result, a child may be more susceptible to foot related deformities, pain and injuries, with the problems worsening as they get older. In fact, many foot related illness that podiatrists treat in adults, could have been prevented if help was sought out as the symptoms occurred as a child. Problems with a child’s feet can impact their hips, pelvis and spine over the course of their life.
By the time a child begins to stand, at roughly a year of age, it is common to have rectangular shaped feet that come in full contact with the ground, with the bone of the heel tilting slightly inward. As they begin to grow, the bones, joints and muscles in the child’s foot will develop and strengthen. By the time a child reaches approximately 4 or 5 years old, it is expected that an arch in the foot is clearly visible, with the heel bone tilt undetectable. However, unfortunately for some children, the development in their foot posture and arch may progress atypically compared to their peers, and is closely related to ligament status, movement skills and weight distribution over the feet. Such abnormal development can then lead to foot alignment and postural problems, pain, deformities, clumsy gait and more.
In an effort to treat the abnormal development and minimise the impact this may have on the rest of the body, orthotic therapy may be prescribed. Children’s orthotic devices, which include a range of custom made, semi-custom, heat mouldable or non cast orthotic shoe inserts, can help take the strain off a child’s lower legs muscles and joints, resulting in less muscle fatigue and improved alignment. Children’s orthotics also encourage normal development and prevent abnormal forces on the feet, ankles, hips, pelvis and spine.
Orthotics are prescribed after a comprehensive assessment that factors in an individual’s biomechanics, lifestyle factors and current footwear. If an assessment finds that a child is suffering from heel pain, flat feet, high arched feet, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, Sever’s disease, in-toeing and more, they may benefit from orthotic devices. Upon diagnosis, a personalised care plan is developed, and the correct orthotic device prescribed. Additional treatments may also be required, including exercise, strengthening and training methods which can help improve a child’s range of movement, posture and weight distribution which are all contributing factors to the developmental issues, abnormalities and pain often experienced.
Some children may only require orthotic therapy short term, while others may require treatment long term. This is dependant on the child’s development and gait, and it is therefore essential for the child to be monitored every 3-6 months. At Spinal and Sports Care, our physiotherapist and chiropractic team based are dedicated in treating foot related issues with a variety of techniques. For more information on orthotic therapy at our Parramatta, Castle Hill or Wetherill Park clinics or to book a consultation, do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 9683 1110.