Pediatric Heel Pain
If your child develops heel pain, which gets worse after exercising, they are likely suffering from calcaneal apophysitis. Also known as Sever's disease, this condition is the most common cause of child heel pain, and it is typically the result of overuse.
What Causes Calcaneal Apophysitis?
According to Boston Children's Hospital, calcaneal apophysitis occurs when the growth plate and bone in the lower back portion of a child's heel becomes inflamed. Most cases arise during the two-year growth spurt of early puberty. During this time, the heel bone, which is also known as the calcaneus, goes through a growth spurt of its own, which can cause the muscles and tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, to become very tight and to damage this growing bone.
The typical child suffering with Sever's disease is usually between the ages of 8 and 13 and involved in a sport that requires a lot of jumping and running. The most common sport associated with this condition is soccer, according to the National Center for Biotechnology.
Children who develop Sever's disease will complain of pain in the back of one or both of their heels, especially when engaged in a sport that involves repetitive pounding of their feet. Some children also experience pain on the sides and bottom of the heel. In addition, the heel may occasionally be swollen or red, and a doctor may find that the back of the heel is also tender to the touch.
Because there are other conditions, such as an infection or a fracture, that could also cause a child heel pain, you should always have your child's condition properly diagnosed by a podiatrist at Academy Foot and Ankle. The doctor may order an x-ray of the heel to verify that there are no factures and also so that he can look at the growth plates.
If the podiatrist diagnoses your child as having Sever's disease, he will probably order a course of treatment that includes leg stretches and resting the heel in order to give it time to get better. He may also recommend that your child substitute his current high-impact activity with one that will be less stressful on his heels, such as swimming or biking.
To relieve the pain your child is suffering, your podiatrist at Academy Foot and Ankle may suggest that you give your child over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and to also ice down the area. In addition, some podiatrists may also prescribe the use of orthotics or heel cups to protect the area from further aggravation. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at