Heel pain in kids and teens
Surprisingly heel pain in kids and teens is not uncommon; however, the cause is often different to what causes heel pain in adults. Sever’s disease, also known as Sever’s or calcaneal apophysitis is a common cause of heel pain, particularly in physically active young people. It often develops around puberty and is slightly more likely to develop in boys.
Heel pain in active kids and teens is a common reason for active kids not to want to participate in sports and enjoy. Severs most commonly affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 when growth spurts are beginning. Severs develops because of traction and stresses from the Achilles tendon acting on the growth plate of the heel bone resulting in inflammation.
Symptoms of Sever's
Heel pain during physical exercise, especially in those with jumping and running is involved. Pain is often at its worse during exercise or after physical activity.
Severs disease is mostly age and activity related some the other factors can contribute to heel pain in kids involve:
- Changes in height and weight
- When a sports season ends and a new one starts
- When this been a sudden increase in the childs training load. This can include the amount of activity, the intensity and the frequency of sport and physical exercise.
Sever's is often diagnosed by a podiatrist. Diagnosis is made through detailed history of the patient, physical examinations and occasionally medical imaging. However in some cases, medical imaging may be necessary to exclude other diagnosed conditions.
How do we treat the sever's?
Fortunately Severs disease is often self-limiting meaning “it will get better with time” however treatment is required when heel pain is getting in the way of day-to-day life and physical exercise and activity.
- Education on how to manage flareups
- Modify activity for short periods is often necessary to get things under control.
- Using an in-shoe heel lift can often reduce stress on the heel bone and improve the symptoms.
- Ensuring shoes have adequate support and suitable for the type of activity and sport.
- Icing at the end of the sport
- Orthotics (specially designed inserts)
- Medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be helpful during an acute flareup; however, this should always be combined with other treatments and following a consultation with a podiatrist or Doctor.
Mr James Ferrie
B. Pod. (La Trobe); Mem. A. Pod. A
Principal Practitioner / Founder of My Sports Podiatrist