What can I do for heel pain in kids?

Our Podiatrist in Healios Top 5 Tips for heel pain in Children!

  1. Specific Footwear
  2. Flexible inserts
  3. Mobility and strength
  4. Load
  5. Pain relief

As the weather is warming up lots of children are getting outside and getting active… which is
great! Or they may have just finished a footy season and now they are onto cricket, basketball, athletics ! It can be at this time of year that they start to complain about their feet (and in particular their heel) feeling sore.

A common cause of these symptoms is a condition called Calcaneal Apophysitis (which is just a really big word for heel pain). Calcaneal Apophysitis or more commonly known as “Sever’s syndrome” is pain at the back of the heel which usually occurs in children and teenagers ranging from 7 to 14 years old.

It is an irritation at the growth plate of the heel bone which mostly affects children who are active or play sports that involve repeated running or jumping. This is because a child in this age group is usually going through a growth spurt in which the bones grow faster than the muscles and leads to traction of the Achilles tendon on the heel.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Your child may have pain in the heel (or even vague foot pain) during or after activity and sport
  • They may also have stiffness in the back of the leg with associated heel pain when they get up in the morning or getting up after they have been sitting down for a while
  • You might even notice your child limping or walking and running different to usual

Treatment
Treatment of Calcaneal Apophysitis is about addressing both the symptoms (the pain your child has) and also the causative factors (the reasons they have the pain). The goal being to help them enjoy an active lifestyle both now and long term!

Below are the Top 5 things we would look to address to help with this condition.

1. Footwear

Shoes play a major role in this condition and it is essential that your child is in the correct footwear for their activity. Having specific shoes for the given activity profile is key to getting back on track. This includes school shoes and exercise shoes most commonly.

2. Flexible inserts

Flexible inserts are often used to help improve the efficiency of the foot and reduce the load on the affected tissue… especially during the symptomatic (painful) stage. This helps to reduce load and therefore discomfort/pain. We also use inserts that are flexible and move with the foot to enable the 26 little bones in each foot to move and function efficiently.

3. Mobility & Strength

During a growth spurt tight calves can lead to traction of the Achilles tendon on the heel and therefore it is essential that we incorporate stretches and soft tissue massage as part of the treatment regime. We also want to improve the strength of the calf muscle so the Achilles Tendon does not have to work as hard. Initially to improve pain levels heel lifts may be put into your child’s shoes but we only want that to be a short term solution and longer term improving footwear, biomechanics, flexibility & strength.

4. Load

Calcaneal Apophysitis is an overuse injury which means the more activity the child is involved in the more strain in places on the growth plate. We want to try and address all the above factors before considering load. In some persistent cases your child may need relative rest so instead of playing 3 games of basketball in one day
they may only play 2 or don’t run the lap of the footy oval during footy training.

5. Pain Relief

In persistent cases a heat pack over the Achilles & heel can work well or use of topical anti-inflammatories .
It is important to note once the growth plate ossifies between 13 & 14 years old the pain will subside and there is no long term effects of Calcaneal Apophysitis but during this period we want your child to be able to do the things they love pain free.

If you think your child is suffering from this condition please book an appointment with us for an initial assessment and a targeted management plan. You can book online or call

 

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