Are your children experiencing heel pain?

Background

Heel pain in children may be commonly known as Sever’s disease or Calcaneal Apophysitis. Way back in 1912, James Warren Sever an orthopedic doctor was the first person to describe the condition. Doctor Severs decided to name the condition after his last name. So keep in mind Sever’s disease is not a sinister disease, rather just the name commonly used to describe heel pain in children.

What is Children’s heel pain? (Sever’s disease)

Children may develop Calcaneal Apophysitis which is caused by irritation to the heel growth plate. The irritation may be due to an increased level in sporting activities, an increase in body weight or starting a new activity. Also the irritations can arise due to the foot muscles that connect to the bottom of the heel and Achilles tendon (the big fibrous cord on the back of your heel) as they pull against the heel when walking.

Growth spurts in both girls and boys start between the ages 8-14 years old. Usually by the age of 15, the growth plate has fused, hardened and your child symptoms will cease. 

Symptoms

  • Pain in the morning
  • Redness at the heels
  • During activities
  • After activities/sports
  • Limping

With these symptoms of heel pain it may prevent your child from wanting to play sport, be active or even move. Children may also toe walk so they can try to reduce pressure on their heels.

Diagnosis

Here at better health podiatry we can assist with diagnosis of your child’s heel pain.

We may request imaging if we suspect a fracture or other more serious condition. Imaging such as an xray is usually not required since there is no difference between children with and without heel Calcaneal apophysitis on imaging.

Image B) The red arrow points at a fused growth plate. Patient age 15.

Treatment

Luckily Calcaneal apophysitis easies over time without treatment. Our podiatrists can assist with further offloading strategies for your child to be continually active during sporting activities if symptoms do persist.

If your child is experiencing heel pain one easy management option that they can start off with is massaging the back of the leg with moisturiser for 10 minutes. Also using a wheat heat pack before and after activities may assist to sooth pain.

If you child experiencing heel pain come in for an assessment and we will get to the root of the cause. For further information call (02) 9518 0722

Richard Ching
Podiatrist
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