At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we treat patients of all ages. When it comes to our younger patients, we place great emphasis on providing treatment that is centered on conservative (nonsurgical) methods. There are various ways that our skilled foot doctors do so, but a particularly valuable tool they may recommend or choose to prescribe is a pair of children’s orthotics.
These devices are shoe inserts that are intended to correct a medical condition. They generally fall into one of two categories.
Accommodative devices are intended to relieve pressure from or cushion specific areas of the foot where needed. They are usually constructed from softer materials.
Functional supports, on the other hand, serve to modify or control biomechanical processes in order to establish a more natural motion in the foot. These devices are typically made from sturdier materials and tend to be more rigid.
Benefits of Foot Orthotics for Children
From a medical perspective, children cannot be treated simply like smaller versions of their parents – and neither can their feet. You may be familiar with these devices because you yourself have a diagnosis or problem related to your feet, but orthotic devices for children present a unique opportunity to control the growth and development of a young foot.
Many common foot problems are thought to have a genetic component, but a child’s activities may also play a major role in the development of these issues. This is especially true when considering the growing number of children who are increasing their activity levels and entering organized sports at a young age. The extra force loads faced by the feet of children who participate in physical activities can exacerbate issues. The use of custom children’s orthotics, however, can improve outcomes for maturing bones to help prevent future problems.
Common Problems Helped by Orthotic Therapy
Research has shown that the early use of foot orthoses in children can have beneficial results that can be seen clinically and on diagnostic images, like x-rays. Certain problems with foot development and biomechanics can eventually lead to problems higher up, including the ankles, knees, hips, and even lower back. Some common problems that our expert foot doctors can address with this therapy include flatfoot, overpronation, torsional deformities of the lower leg, juvenile bunions, and other biomechanical inefficiencies of the foot.
Children’s orthotics are especially beneficial in the treatment of juvenile bunions. While adults may require surgery to completely correct the condition, this is not an approach we take with young patients. Since the condition is progressive in nature and can worsen without treatment, orthotics can be instrumental in redistributing forces away from the affected toe joint to keep the bunion from worsening.
What Will My Child Feel?
In all likelihood, your child will adapt wonderfully to his or her new orthoses. As we know, child ligaments and bone structures have the unique ability to adapt to new or corrected positions, and their feet are no different. The Total-Contact Foot Orthotics (TCFOs) our doctors use at our office are different from other supports in that they are precisely calibrated to your child’s feet. This means that they are designed based on your child’s foot type and weight to provide exactly the right amount of flexibility. Tolerance issues in children are extremely rare.
If you would like additional information or want to schedule an appointment with the doctors of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, call (512) 328-8900 or complete our contact form and find out what we can do to help alleviate your child’s foot pain. Remember, you can also schedule an appointment online right now.