Heel pain is more common than you might think – and this problem doesn’t just affect adults, but also kids and adolescents, too! Often teens develop significant pain and soreness that keeps them from doing the things they love, from running to playing sports to enjoying the outdoors.
And unlike their parents, who are more likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis, children’s heel pain more frequently arises from a condition called Sever’s disease.
(Before you ask – no, this is not actually a disease, but an overuse injury to the relatively soft growth plate of the heel bone.)
The good news is that Sever’s disease is only a temporary issue, and with some simple treatment measures, your son or daughter will be back to doing the things they love in no time!
What Causes Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease is actually an issue that develops due to differences in physical maturity between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the Achilles tendon (which connects to the back of the heel). The growth plate located in the back of the heel can develop more quickly than the Achilles, and this results in the tendon and calf muscle to become tight and pull excessively (and painfully) on the growth plate.
This condition is commonly seen in girls between the ages of 8 and 13 and boys between the ages of 10 and 15, though it can sometimes happen a little earlier or later than those ranges.
There are certain factors which can lead to an increase in symptom severity, including ill-fitting shoes, excessive periods spent standing, and overuse. These symptoms can become more severe either during or immediately after physical activities, and will generally improve with rest.
What Are the Symptoms?
Aside from heel pain, your son or daughter may show some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Walking on toes
- Stiffness or discomfort in the back of the heel
- Limping while walking, or even difficulty walking
- Child hesitates or withdraws from activities they used to enjoy
- Swelling, redness, and tenderness (especially when gently squeezing the back of the heel)
How Can Sever’s Disease Be Treated?
When addressed early, most cases of Sever’s disease can be resolved within just a few weeks, using only conservative treatment options. On the other hand, failing to start treatment and allowing your child to continue playing through the pain may lead to more serious consequences – so make sure that doesn’t happen.
Instead, try these easy, at-home treatment options:
- This is often the most important and effective treatment method. Their heels need time away from any activities that cause pain. This gives them a chance to recover.
- Do not apply ice directly to the heel – wrap it in a towel first. Apply for about 20 minutes at a time, up to 3 times a day.
- Physical therapy. Foot and leg exercises, when performed regularly, can help with pain and recovery.
- In severe cases, we may need to keep the heel protected inside a cast for a few weeks. Essentially this treatment is the same as “rest,” but reduces the risk of setbacks in recovery.
- This is best accomplished by the use of custom orthotics. We can get your son or daughter fitted for their very own pair right here at our Kalamazoo office.
We Provide Expert Pediatric Care
If you are a parent or guardian, watching your child experience pain and discomfort can be stressful. Dr. Terence Bredeweg has the knowledge, skill, and tools available to provide the relief your child needs so that they can keep being kids – without having to worry about heel pain.
So if you notice any concerning signs in your child’s foot or ankles, don’t wait to seek professional help – the sooner you come visit our office for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the more quickly your child will be back on their feet!
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