Heel pain is most common among those with a bit of life experience—those hard miles add up by the time you reach middle age, and you don’t quite have the capacity to heal and recover that you used to. It isn’t supposed to be something that affects kids. Yet it often does, and that can be very distressing for both children and their parents. That’s especially true when heel pain is keeping your little one from active play or participation in sports.
The most common heel pain condition kids experience is called calcaneal apophysitis, or Sever’s disease. Don’t be alarmed: Sever’s isn’t actually a “disease” at all. Instead, it’s the painful result of an unfortunate combination of factors.
In childhood, the skeleton is still growing and developing. During this time, the ends of bones—including the heel bone—feature an exposed area of growing tissue called a growth plate. The growth plate is naturally weaker and more sensitive than the rest of the bone, and repetitive stresses can lead to pain. Kids who are active, therefore, are more likely to develop the condition, especially if they’re going through an adolescent growth spurt. A tight Achilles tendon, or a heel that grows slightly faster than the leg muscles and tissues that attach to it, can increase the discomfort. Eventually, the skeleton reaches maturity and the growth plate is covered by harder bone tissue.
Kids, especially teenagers, can also develop heel pain conditions that are more common in adults, such as:
When they appear in children, these conditions are often diagnosed and treated similarly to the way they are with adults. One difference is that we’re a lot more hesitant to recommend surgery for kids who are still growing. Fortunately, this is rarely necessary as kids tend to heal more quickly and respond even better to conservative care for heel pain than adults do.
At Dallas Podiatry Works, you’ll find a team of experienced medical professionals who will put the health of your little one first and work hard to solve their heel pain. That way, they can quickly rebound from pain and injury and rejoin their friends on the playground or athletic field! To set up an appointment with one of our four excellent physicans please call 972.566.7474.