At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we know that tracking down the source of foot pain in children can be challenging. A condition that often affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 is Sever’s Disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis. Until your child passes through puberty, his or her legs and feet continue to grow and develop. Sometimes the heel bone can grow faster than the tendons and muscles of the leg. This can result in a feeling of tightness and pressure in the heel. The back of the growth plate has a vulnerable spot where new bone growth forms. Continuous stress on the heel caused by running, jumping and wearing cleats can inflame the growth plate. High-risk sports include soccer, football, track, basketball and gymnastics.
Signs and Symptoms
Pain in the bottom of the heel, a loss of flexibility, or a feeling of tiredness in the foot are the primary symptoms of Sever’s Disease. There also may be some swelling in the affected area. Young children, however, may not be able to articulate their symptoms. Look for these signs that heel or other foot pain may be occurring:
- Walking on tip toes
- Claiming to be tired and not wanting to play
- Avoiding sports and other physical activities that your child usually enjoys
Our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas will develop a treatment plan to help relieve pain and inflammation. This will most likely include resting the heel and avoiding sports and activities that aggravate it as well as any of the following:
- Icing the heel
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Heel cushion inserts or orthotics
- Exercises to stretch and strengthen lower leg muscles and tendons
Sever’s Disease does not have any long-term effects as long as your child takes a break from activities that are putting a strain on the heel and allows the inflammation to go away. It’s important, however, not to ignore signs of foot pain in young athlete’s or encourage them to “play through the pain,” as damaging injuries can then occur.