Heel pain in children is most commonly associated with growing pains, especially those who are physically active. It is medically diagnosed as Calcaneal Apophysitis (Sever’s disease).
The heel bone grows from the back of the heel and there is a “growth plate” which can become inflamed or irritated. This causes pain. Pain will be worse with activity. This pain will eventually go away on its own as the child’s growth slows.
The approximately 2-year period in early puberty is when kids grow most rapidly. This growth spurt can begin any time between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 10 and 15 for boys. It rarely occurs in older teens because the back of the heel usually finishes growing by the age of 15, when the growth plate hardens and the growing bones fuse together into mature bone.
Heel Pain Causes
- Physical Activities
- Standing Too Long
- Poor-Fitting Shoes
- Pronated Foot (a foot that rolls in at the ankle when walking)
- Flat Feet
- High Arch,
- Short Leg Syndrome
Signs and Symptoms
The most obvious sign is pain or tenderness in one or both heels, usually at the back. The pain also might extend to the sides and bottom of the heel, ending near the arch of the foot.
- Swelling and redness in the heel
- Difficulty walking
- Discomfort or stiffness in the feet upon awaking
- Discomfort when the heel is squeezed on both sides
- An unusual walk, such as walking with a limp or on tiptoes to avoid putting pressure on the heel
Symptoms are usually worse during or after activity and get better with rest.
The immediate goal of treatment is pain relief.
- Perform foot and leg exercises to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles and tendons
- Elevate and apply ice (wrapped in a towel, not applied directly to the skin) to the injured heel for 20 minutes two or three times per day, even on days when the pain is not that bad, to help reduce swelling
- Wear compression socks that is designed to help decrease pain and swelling
- Take an over-the-counter medicine to reduce pain with acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Take an over-the-counter medicine to reduce swelling with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)