Heel Pain in “Tween-agers”
October 02, 2017
By Melissa J. Lockwood, DPM, Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates, P.C.
Fall sports are in full swing for kids of all ages — soccer, cross country, volleyball, cheerleading, tennis, and of course, football. We often get calls in our office from parents who are concerned with heel pain their kids are experiencing. They often notice signs like limping, swelling, or redness around the heel. The most common cause for heel pain in young adolescents is a condition called calcaneal apophysitis, also known as Sever’s Disease.
Despite its name, this condition is not actually a disease at all, but rather an unfortunate injury. Calcaneal apophysitis occurs when a sudden growth spurt results in the heel bone growing faster than the Achilles tendon attached to it. This causes the tendon to tighten and pull on the heel bone, making it tender to the touch, inflamed, and sore. Active kids will often experience this particular growing pain between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls, and 12 and 16 for boys.
Your child will eventually outgrow this problem when the tendon catches up, but in the meantime, rest is the best treatment — not exactly an easy thing for an active child or young athlete! Luckily, there are some low-impact options, like swimming and skating, that aren’t as stressful on heels. These can replace running and jumping activities so kids can still be active.
Following are some simple, conservative strategies to ease the discomfort so kids can still participate in their sport.
- Ice the area to reduce swelling and pain.
- Make sure your child’s shoes have plenty of cushion and support.
- Invest in orthotics to direct pressure away from the heel, or heel cups to provide added cushion.
- Perform stretching exercises to strengthen the tendons and muscles around the heel.
- Prevent recurrence by wearing proper footwear and stretching regularly. Gradually return to sports, and avoid excessive play on hard surfaces.
Foot pain is never normal. If your son or daughter is complaining of any type of pain in their feet, it’s best to get it checked out right away!
For more information regarding heel pain or any foot problem, please contact Dr. Lockwood at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates, at 309-661-9975 or www.heartlandfootandankle.com. Their office is located at 10 Heartland Dr. in Bloomington.
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