What's Causing My Child's Heel Pain?
As children grow and develop, they can experience a number of foot problems specific to their age that are not seen in the adult population.
Growing bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are very plastic when we are younger so abnormally high forces and loads can easily lead to damage and subsequent pain.
Heel Pain in Children
Childhood heel pain is a relatively common problem in growing, active children that can severely limit your child’s enjoyment of sports and normal day-to-day activities.
Pain were the Achilles tendon joins into the heel bone (the calcaneus) is called Calcaneal Apophysitis or Sever’s Disease
It is a condition where the Achilles tendon pulls on the growing portion of the heel (the growth plate) that results in pain, swelling and discomfort in the back of one or both heels.
Pain is not normal for any child
When Can Severs Occur?
Children that develop this heel pain are usually aged between 8-12 years, are physically active and involved in sports.
Children who participate in running and jumping sports like netball, basketball, football, soccer and little athletics tend to be more susceptible to this heel pain.
Calcaneal Apophysitis presents as pain in the heel, especially in the mornings, that gets a bit better with activity but worse again with more intense activity and sports.
You may notice your child limping and complaining of a dull ache in one or both heels and they may demonstrate a guarding of the heels and a reduced desire to play sport.
How We Treat Their Heel Pain
Following the correct diagnosis of Calcaneal Apophysitis, treatment by your Podiatrists Managing Heel Pain will follow the below general pathway:
- Manage pain with an ice pack after sports and at night time and use anti-inflammatory gels on the heel.
- Use a soft heel raise in all shoes to reduce the load in the tendon and reduce impact stress on the heels.
- Maintain appropriate range of motion in the ankle with exercises to raise and lower the foot on the ankle and rotate it in circles.
- Do gentle calf muscle stretches to lengthen the calf and tight Achilles tendon.
- Manage any biomechanical abnormalities in the foot and leg that may be contributing to abnormal loading of the heel and Achilles tendon with foot orthoses or paddings.
- Ensure the right footwear is being worn for the right activities.
- Some footwear like football/ soccer shoes and fashion sneakers can have a very low heel height that increases stress on the heels.
Pain Is Not Normal For Any Child
Don’t let your child’s heel pain stop them from enjoying the things kids love to do!
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I'd love to talk to you about how we can help you build an amazing life from the feet up.
Director of Complete Podiatry