Heel Pain in Children

Has your child been complaining of pain in his or her heel? The most common cause of pain in the heel that we see at Texas Foot Specialists in children and adolescents is Sever’s Disease. Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever’s Disease in not actually a disease. It is an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate.

In children between 8 and 14 years of age, the heel bone is still developing. New bone forms at the growth plate which is a vulnerable area at the back of the heel. When the growth plate is irritated, pain, which can be quite severe, occurs in the heel. Most of the time the inflammation is the result of overuse—sports that involve repeated pounding of the heels, such as basketball, track and soccer are common culprits. There are other causes of Sever’s Disease, however, including: a tight Achilles tendon, obesity and biomechanical abnormalities (i.e. an overly high arch or flat feet).

Signs of Sever’s Disease

In younger children who are not able to fully articulate what’s hurting, you may observe the following:

  • Limping
  • Difficulty running or jumping
  • Not participating in activities he or she usually enjoys
  • Complaining of being tired
  • Walking of tip toes

Typically, the pain in the heel worsens with activity.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In the case of heel pain in youth or adolescents, our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller will want to get a complete medical history and information about your child’s regular activities and sports in addition to conducting an examination of the heel and foot. X-rays and other advanced imaging and laboratory tests may be ordered as well.

Once the foot doctor has confirmed that Sever’s Disease is the cause of the heel pain, your child will need to stop all sports and activities that are aggravating the heel. Treatment options will be aimed at reducing pain and inflammation and allowing the heel to heal either by immobilization or using orthotic devices for support. Physical therapy may also be recommended.

If your child is experiencing heel pain contact our Sugarland, Pasadena or Houston office for an appointment as soon as possible to prevent further damage from occurring. Sitting out a season now is better than a lifetime of chronic heel pain.