Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heel pain in Children

Heel pain in children (Calcaneal apophysitis) is a painful inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. It is a common condition that we see in our practice. It can affect children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old, because the heel bone is not fully developed until at least age 14. Repetitive stress on the growth plate of the heel can develop into inflammation and pain.
It is the most common cause of heel pain in children, and can occur in one or both feet. Typically the pain resolves fairly quickly with conservative treatment.


Overuse and stress on the heel bone through participation in sports is a major cause of calcaneal apophysitis. The growth plate of the heel is sensitive to repeated running and pounding on hard surfaces, resulting in muscle strain and inflamed tissue. Children involved in soccer, tennis, or basketball are especially vulnerable.
Other potential causes of calcaneal apophysitis include a tight Achilles tendon, and biomechanical problems such as flatfoot or a high-arched foot.

  • Pain in the back or bottom of the heel
  • Limping
  • Walking on toes
  • Difficulty running, jumping, or participating in sports
  • Pain when the sides of the heel are squeezed

To diagnose the cause of the child’s heel pain and rule out other more serious conditions, we will take a thorough medical history and perform a detailed clinical exam. X-rays are often used to evaluate the condition and visualize the growth plate of the heel.

  • Reduce activity. Reducing or stopping any activity that causes pain will help to decrease inflammation.
  • Support the heel. Temporary shoe inserts, heel lifts, or custom orthotic devices may provide support for the heel.
  • Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy. Stretching or physical therapy modalities are sometimes used to promote healing of the inflamed issue.
  • Immobilization. In some severe cases immobilization with a cam walker boot may be needed for 4-6 weeks.
Typically calcaneal apophsitis resolves with conservative treatment. If your child has a repeat bout of heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with our doctors at Carolina Foot Specialists.

1 comment:

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    "Dr. Carl Balog"