Heel Pain in Children
Heel pain in children is surprisingly common, presenting regularly in the Podiatry or Physiotherapy setting. It’s a type of pain which can be quite debilitating, impacting on a child’s ability to participate in and enjoy their chosen sport and perform to their full potential.
What causes heel pain in children?
Severs disease is the most common cause of heel pain in children. It is due to overuse and pulling of the achilles tendon on the back of the heel, and the plantar fascia on the bottom of the heel. The pulling force causes pain and inflammation at the growth plate within the heel bone. It is often aggravated by tight calf muscles and feet that roll in too far (flat feet). Its normally seen in active kids between the ages of 8 and 15 during the rapid growth years.
What are the common symptoms?
The signs and symptoms that point to severs may include:
- Pain with physical activity, particularly activities that require running and jumping
- Limping, often in the morning or during and after sport
- Tendency to tip toe
- Worsening of symptoms after exercise
How is Severs disease diagnosed?
A Podiatrist or Physiotherapist can diagnose Severs disease by asking the young person about their symptoms and performing a physical examination. In some scenarios medical imaging may be required to rule out other causes of heel pain, however x rays are generally not necessary to diagnose Severs.
What is the best treatment for heel pain in children?
Heel pain in children responds very well to treatment. Treatment may include:
- Foot orthotics to address any biomechanical factors contributing to the pain
- Activity modification – decrease or modify load in the short term
- Education on how to self manage symptoms and flare ups
- Heel raise – helpful to reduce pull on the heel bone
- Footwear education – having the appropriate shoe that meets demands of the sport and clips needs
Heel pain in children should not become a long term chronic issue. Early and appropriate intervention will lead to the best outcome. If you child is experiencing heel pain, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist with an interest in sports injuries. This will ensure a quicker recovery allowing your kid get back doing the things they love.