You're out and about with your little one, enjoying a day at the park. Suddenly they start limping and complain of heel pain. Or maybe your child no longer wants to participate in activities. What could it be? Is their heel hurting because they're growing so fast? Heel pain does not just occur in adults with plantar fasciitis, but is a common problem in kids, especially during growth spurts. The most common cause of heel pain in kids is called calcaneal apophysitis, or "Sever's disease." Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between normal fatigue and an actual problem, so let us help you out!
What is Sever's disease?
Sever's disease is not a true "disease." It is a condition that results from overuse or repetitive stress on the growth plate of the heel. The condition is seen more often in kids who participate in sports that involve running or jumping, such as soccer, basketball, or track. Sever's disease is also seen in kids who are very active, even if they don't play sports. Playing in the yard or on uneven terrain can cause a flare up.
This condition occurs when the growth plate (a soft area of cartilage near the end of the bone) at the back of the heel becomes irritated and inflamed and usually affects kids between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. It is more common in boys than girls. The condition is seen more often during growth spurts, when the bones are growing faster than the muscles and tendons.
Symptoms of Sever's disease include:
- heel pain that is worse with activity or when pressure is applied to the heel
- tenderness or pain in the heel when the bottom of the foot is squeezed
- swelling or redness in the heel
- avoiding sports and other activities
Sever's disease is diagnosed based on a child's symptoms and a physical examination. X-rays are usually obtained to rule out any other causes of their pain such as a fracture.
Special shoe inserts, such as heel pads or cups, can act as a shock absorber, decrease pressure on the heel bone and slightly elevate the heel to relieve the pain. Elastic wraps and compression stockings can help decrease any swelling and pain. We might also recommend rest, applying ice, elevating the foot, and over-the-counter pain medication.
You can also soak your child’s feet in Mod Pod Relax. This lemongrass infused Epsom salt soak will soothe aching feet and reduce inflammation. Afterwards, apply Mod Pod Soothe. Soothe is a pain-relieving stick that contains 1000mg of CBD, arnica, eucalyptus, and lavender oils. This ultra-potent combination will reduce pain for a minimum of 4 hours. If you want effective pain relief without the CBD, Mod Pod Recover is a great option!
We show kids some specific stretches that can help stretch the calf muscles and tendons on the back of the leg to reduce stress on the heel. You can view a video demonstration of the stretching exercises here.
Most kids with Sever's disease get better within a few weeks to a few months of treatment. The condition usually goes away when the growth plate fuses to the bone, which happens when a child completes puberty.
So, if you notice your little one limping around after running or playing sports, call us at 859-264-1141 or schedule an appointment online. We can help keep your young ones running around and make sure they are tuckered out for bed time!