Heel pain in kids is one of the most common things we see at TFC Podiatry Point Cook and this month we are trying to provide education to our patients and their parents in the clinic as well as the online community on this painful condition.
One of the most common reasons for children’s heel pain is Sever’s disease, also known as Calcaneal Apophysitis. This condition is best described as inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone, known as the Calcaneus. This inflammation is caused by a chronic overloading of the growth plate and is most common in children until the age of 16 years old.
Sever’s disease is caused by increased pressure at the growth plate and is therefore most common in very active kids that place a lot of load through their feet. Often children who play sports that involve lots of jumping (such as netball, basketball and football) will develop this condition. This overloading is caused by a few different forces or loads and as such there are a few risk factors that your Podiatrist will assess for to ensure the most effective treatment plan is given. One key example of this, is observed after a growth spurt. After a growth spurt the muscles in the calf can be so tight that it can pull on the structures around the heel, therefore increasing the pulling force on the Calcaneal (heel bone) growth plate.
The symptoms for Sever’s disease most commonly present as pain during exercise. Early on in the condition this is usually a small amount of pain which can worsen over time without treatment. At TFC Podiatry we try to keep children active in their sports as much as possible to ensure that they don’t fall behind their peers in developing their skills. Diagnosis of Severs disease is usually done in the Podiatry clinic and very rarely needs an ultrasound or an X-ray.
Treatments for Sever’s disease should be focused around addressing risk factors for trauma or overloading to the growth plate while keeping the child as active in their sport as possible during treatment. Determining the risk factors for Sever’s disease are based upon known risk factors for the condition as well as a thorough Biomechanical and Paediatric foot assessment. Depending on these risk factor’s common treatments for Severs disease can include: home exercise programs, orthotic devices, footwear changes, physical therapy or relative rest from aggravating activity. In some cases of persistent Severs disease, immobilization of the ankle joint can be necessary to bring symptoms to a halt in the short term followed by a rehabilitation plan to address the risk factors.
This information is of a general nature, if you have pain. A definitive diagnosis from a health care professional and treatment plan based on your own case is very important.