Kids, their Ever-Growing Feet and Orthotics

Orthotics for Children, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Kids, and their feet, come in all shapes and sizes. What’s usually common among them all, at least all the boys, is stinky feet.


All “kid-ding” aside, we often see kids who come in with their parents with a variety of complaints. They include things like shin splints, legs aching, ankle pain, heel pain, arch pain and the ever popular “not wanting to run in gym class!” Many of these seemingly different complaints come down to two common issues: flat feet and hyper-flexible joints.


Our physicians have decades of combined experience treating these  conditions and pride themselves in offering advanced care in a caring and compassionate environment.

How can Orthotics Help my Child?

When the arches flatten in kids' feet, the foot and ankle pronates or rolls to the inside. This motion, when excessive, causes overuse stress to the inside arch, heel, Achilles tendon and the tendons all the way up to where they attach to the front of the legs. This leads to the development of soreness, tightness, early fatigue, pain, limping, etc. Running and jumping sports tend to uncover these problems.


Once the problem flares-up, it can be treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation (commonly called “RICE”) and physical therapy. However, it is important to change the way the feet interact with the ground to prevent reoccurrences, otherwise the problem is simply not going to go away.


This problem with hyper-flexibility and excessive flattening of the arch can be effectively managed with custom molded orthotics. Over-the-counter inserts and Dr. Scholl’s arch pads typically do very little to control this excessive motion. They are certainly less expensive and in some cases are better than nothing, but there are plenty of studies over the years that have shown us the larger differences between the two options.



UFAI, the Right Choice for your Child's Foot Care

At University Foot & Ankle Institute, we are well-tuned to recommend the most therapeutic stretches, exercises, effective shoes and appropriate orthotic management for children. We will examine their feet while sitting, but also watch them stand and walk to appreciate how they function. If it seems appropriate, we will recommend fitting for custom functional orthotics. Fortunately, insurance often provides some level of coverage for these custom fitted devices; if not, we offer a cash discount to hopefully make them more affordable.



How are Pediatric Orthotics Made?

The process of making custom orthotics starts by us taking a plaster-cast mold of the feet in a corrected and neutral position. These molds then go to our laboratory where specialists build the custom inserts. They usually have a deep heel cup, a wedge posted heel to correct the foot position, and a high arch and outside rim to keep the foot in the desired position. They are designed to fit in typical children’s; shoes, though sometimes, depending on the needs of the patient, we will order an orthotic that will fit best into a Vans or Converse shoe that many kids will only wear.


Thankfully orthotics are remarkably effective in clearing up most everyday foot and ankle issues that kids encounter. If orthotics alone aren’t successful, there are alternative treatments. But rest assured that vast majority of children who deal with typical flat foot and hyper-flexible joint problems do not need invasive surgery or larger braces. In other words, children’s orthotics are the way to go for many of these problems.



What Happens when my Child Outgrows their Orthotics?

Yes, kids do outgrow their orthotics after about a year (just like they outgrow everything) but we offer an “outgrow” pair that significantly reduces the price for another pair a year down the road. Most of us at the University Foot & Ankle Institute have kids and have helped our own and thousands of others work through their foot and ankle issues.


We kid you not, they really work!

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    Dr. Baravarian is a very caring and patient doctor. During my first visit with him he really took the time to listen to my concerns and talk to me about all my options regarding my chronic pain. I highly recommend Dr....
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    Suzanne at UFAI saved my Ironman! I started to develop ankle stiffness about two weeks before my first Ironman. I was referred to Suzanne at UFAI in Valencia. With Suzanne's help and some emergency PT, I was able to ...
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