Common Causes of Child Heel Pain

Tara Fussell
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Dr. Tara Fussell provides expert foot and ankle care in both our Altamonte Springs and Orlando offices.

Athletic programs in our central Florida schools offer great opportunities for youth to learn the values of hard work, setting goals, and working as a team. As with any form of physical activity, sports also pose the potential for sustaining an injury. Even a common cause of child’s heel pain—Sever’s disease—while not a sports injury, can be exacerbated by running and jumping. Common reasons children experience heel pain

If you are wondering why your child’s heel hurts, the most likely cause is Sever’s disease (calcaneal apophysis). Contrary to the name, this is not actually a disease, nor is it an injury. Instead, this is a medical condition that develops due to the differences in the physical maturation processes between the heel bone (calcaneus) and Achilles tendon. The problem arises when the physis (growth plate) in the back of the calcaneus goes through a growth spurt before the tendons and muscles in the legs.

When adolescents—boys between the ages of 10-15 and girls between the ages of 8-13—are physically active or play sports like basketball or tennis, it can lead to excessive strain on tendons that are already overstretched. This results in symptoms like:

  • Heel pain following physical activity (particularly if it goes away with rest).
  • Limping or trouble while walking.
  • Swelling, redness, and pain in the affected heel(s).
  • Tightness and tenderness, which is especially noticeable when the area is gently squeezed.

Childhood heel pain caused by calcaneal apophysis will go away in time. Until it does, however, your child can benefit from treatment that is centered on alleviating these often painful symptoms that accompany this common condition.

There are additional sources of heel pain for children. These can include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, infection, and heel bone fractures.

When your son or daughter experiences pain in their heel, or anywhere in the foot or ankle, bring him or her in to see us at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. We will assess the situation, provide a diagnosis, and then create a treatment plan specifically for your child. Contact us by calling 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you call from Lake County), or use our online form to request your appointment today with any of our offices in Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, and Mt. Dora, FL.

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