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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA, 15301

Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

Handling Your Child's Heel Pain

Children often run in high gear and can definitely keep parents active and on their toes! They have the ability to be on the go for long periods of time, and sports are a great way for them to learn new skills while burning off some steam. Children can jump from sport to sport with the change of seasons, and for some this means involvement is a twelve-month commitment. While it is important to be active, this level of activity can cause some aches and pains along the way. While you may see obvious bumps and bruises, we want you to pay close attention to any complaints of heel pain. What you may pass off as a simple growing pain could actually be a condition called Sever’s disease.

What is Sever’s Disease?

While the name may sound a bit scary, this condition is a common overuse injury and could be the source of heel pain in active children. Also called calcaneal apophysis, it develops when inflammation occurs within the growth plate at the back of the heel. This growth plate is where the Achilles tendon and the plantar fasciitis attach to the heel, and it actually doesn’t fully fuse until the ages of 12-14. Repeated stress can damage the immature growth plate and lead to swelling and discomfort, which is the injury we call Sever’s disease.

How Does This Injury Occur?

Understanding the many causes for this type of injury will help you keep your active child free of injury. While watching your child grow up in front of your eyes is a great sight, what is happening on the inside is what can put them at risk for injury. During a growth spurt, the heel can grow faster than surrounding ligaments, which then causes muscles and tendons surrounding the heel to become quite tight. Stress and pressure from sports is generally the most common reason for inflammation and pain in this growth plate. Involvement in high impact sports such as gymnastics, soccer, football, and basketball can put your growing adolescent especially at risk for this injury.

What Symptoms Should I Watch For?

Discomfort from this injury is usually at its worst right after activity, so pay attention to any limping or complaints of heel pain after your child has done playing. Difficulty walking, redness, swelling, pain and tenderness in one or both heels, or pain when you squeeze the sides of the heel are all symptoms worth checking out. Sometimes children do not tell you about any pain they may have, so take note of even small changes in their activity.

How is This Injury Treated?

Our first goal will be to determine the exact reason for your child’s discomfort. Dr. Philip Pinsker may use diagnostic images or other tests to identify the problem in the heel, as well as identify any other problems such as a fracture that may be causing the pain. With a confirmation of Sever’s disease, the first line of defense is typically to require a break from all activities that contribute to stress on the heel. Your child may not be a fan of this, but rest is very important to the healing process. Icing is also helpful to reduce swelling and can be done for twenty minutes, two or three times a day.

We may provide you with some exercises to restore strength and flexibility to the muscles and tendons. Wearing custom orthotic inserts inside the shoe can also alleviate the pressure on the back of the foot. They help to support and stabilize the foot while the injury heals. It may take a couple of weeks to a couple of months before symptoms are fully resolved. We can also show you effective prevention strategies to keep the problem from occurring in the future.

If your child is complaining of heel pain, or if you notice a change in their gait or activity level, protect their foot health by contacting Philip S. Pinsker at the start. Call our office in Washington, PA at (724) 225-7410 or request an appointment online.