An old standby to keep track of children’s growth is to have them stand against a wall and make a mark with a pencil. It is fun to see the progression and distance between the marks get bigger as kids grow. Sometimes there may be an obvious leap from one mark to the next, signifying that a growth spurt occurred. During this time, it is not uncommon for kids, especially active ones, to complain of heel pain. They are likely suffering from a condition called Sever’s disease.
Don’t Let the Name Scare You
Sever’s disease sounds serious, but it is actually a temporary condition that affects the growth plate of your child’s heel. Bones grow faster than their connecting tendons and ligaments, so a jump in growth causes the bones to pull their soft tissues tight. When this happens to one tendon in particular—the Achilles tendon—it can result in excessive pulling on the heel’s growth plate, causing pain and inflammation. Kids who are active and involved in sports are most susceptible since they are putting their feet through a lot of stress on a regular basis. The good news is that once your child stops growing, the pain will stop as well.
Do Look for Signs
The most obvious symptom of this condition is pain in one or both heels. Typically, this occurs in the back of the heel, but it may also extend to the sides and bottom. There will likely be some swelling, redness, and limping as your child tries to walk on the pain. Discomfort is usually worse in the morning and right after activity. It will especially be present if you squeeze on both sides of the heel—a test your child may not enjoy, but a sure fire way for you to tell what’s causing your child’s pain.
Don’t Let Your Kids Overdo It
Repetitive stress from running and jumping, especially on hard surfaces, can lead to this common overuse condition. Kids that participate in track, gymnastics, basketball, and soccer are at a higher risk, so it is important to take precautions. Make sure that they take breaks from their sports so that they do not overdo it. Swimming and biking are lower impact activities that are great cross-training options.
Young athletes can work up an appetite, too, but take care not to let your child overeat, as excessive weight can add to the problem. Footwear is also very important. Shoes should be appropriate for the sport, fit well, and offer plenty of support and padding. If your child has flat feet, high arches, overpronation (foot rolls too far inward when stepping), or one leg shorter than the other, you may want to consider orthotic shoe inserts that correct these contributing issues and provide extra support. Heel pads are another type of insert that can add cushioning and relieve pain. Having your child do daily exercises that stretch his or her Achilles, hamstrings and glutes will help ease discomfort as well.
Do Call Us
It’s hard to see your child in pain, but it is good to remember that Sever’s disease does not last forever. The condition typically goes away within a couple of weeks or a couple of months. We can help you get through it! The sooner you treat the problem, the faster the recovery will be.
If your child is complaining of heel pain, or shows any of the symptoms above, visit us at Podiatry Associates, P.C. We will assess the problem and help you develop a treatment plan. Rest is the number one recommendation. Ice and elevation will also help keep swelling at a minimum. We may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and, in severe cases, suggest a walking cast to help your child immobilize the foot while it heals.
To learn more, or to make an appointment with any member of our expert podiatry team, call (303) 805-5156. You can also reach us online or at one of our convenient locations in Castle Pines and Parker, CO.
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