With all the fall sports starting up again, your child may come to you complaining of heel pain. The cause of heel pain in kids is not the same as heel pain in adults.
What Causes Heel Pain in Kids
Heel pain in kids is most often caused by the growth plate in the heel bone getting inflamed.
The heel in a child is one of the first body parts to grow to full size, so when your child hits puberty, the heel will be fully developed before the other parts of the body. When children’s bones are growing that fast, the muscles or tendon’s can’t keep up and often become tight. This tightness puts stress on the heel, and as time goes on, too much pressure on the heel can result in inflammation of the growth plate in the heel (called calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s Disease).
What You Should Know About Heel Pain in Kids
- It effects children when they are going through a growth spurt when they are beginning puberty
- Typical ages for girls to show signs of Sever’s disease from 8-10
- Typical ages for boys to show signs of Sever’s disease 10-12
- By age 15, the back of the heel has typically stopped growing in children and the chances of Sever’s Disease are rare.
- Running and jumping can increase the likelihood of developing Sever’s disease,
- Soccer and gymnastics are two sports that put your child at higher risk
When Your Child Has These Complaints It Could Be Sever’s Disease
- Heel pain that starts with a new sport or a new season
- Walking on tiptoes or with a limp
- Pain that gets worse with running or jumping
- When tendon of the heel feels tight
- Pain in one or both heels
What to do if my child complains of heel pain
Heel pain in kids is not normal and should always be checked out by a doctor.
An x-ray is not always needed but may be ordered if the doctor suspects something other than Sever’s Disease.
Heel pain in kids can also be caused by:
- a fracture of the growth plate in the heel
- a fracture of the heel bone
- infection on the heel bone
- neoplasm of the heel bone
What can I do if my doctor says my child has Sever’s Disease?
- Use ice 20 minutes on 20 minutes off
- For severe pain use over the counter pain relievers – remember aspirin in not recommended for children
- Orthotic therapy – inserts that go into your child’s shoes and help relieve stress on the heel
- Avoid going barefoot and wear supportive shoes
How To Prevent Sever’s Disease
Proper stretching 2 or 3 times a day – stretches should target calves, heel cords and hamstrings and be held for 20 seconds at a time.
Strengthen the shin muscles – have your child pull his/her toes in with a rubber exercise band or a piece of tubing and then stretch them forward.
Have your child wear shoes that have good shock absorption and avoid running on hard surfaces.
If your child is complaining about heel pain and these tips haven’t worked to relieve his/her pain call our office at (845) 298-9074 to make an appointment. We have afternoon and evening hours to accommodate your child’s busy schedule.
Hollowbrook Foot Specialist serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls
By David Schlam