Pediatric Heel Pain

Heel PainPediatric heel pain is not a disease; it is merely a symptom, or a warning sign that a young child has a condition. Signs that a child is affected by heel pains include limping, pain in either the bottom or back of the heel, difficulties participating in sports and activities, and can also cause the child to walk on their toes to reduce pressure on the heel. Calcaneal apophysitis is the most common disorder associated with pediatric heal pain. This condition usually affects children seven to fourteen. The largest difference between pediatric heel pain and heel pain adults experience is the way the pain occurs. Plantar fasciitis is the term for heel pains experienced by adults, it is worse after lying down or sitting down, and is relieved when the adult walks around. Pediatric heel pain worsens when the child walks, or participates in activities. The reason heel pain is common in children is because the bones in their feet are still growing while being used, in fact the heel bone is not fully developed until the child reaches the age of fourteen. When excess stress is placed on this part of the heel it can cause pediatric heel pain.

Picture of Calcaneal Apophysitis

Heel Pain Causes

The numerous causes of heel pain, and this makes it important to see a podiatrist to determine what course of action is the best treatment option for the affected child, and to find out exactly what has caused the pain in the heel. Heel pain in children can be the result of different conditions. These conditions include:

  • Calcaneal apophysitis, also referred to as Sever’s disease, is one of the most common causes of heel pain in a child. This condition is caused by the inflammation of the growth plate located in the heel, often caused by muscle strain and repetitive stress. This condition usually affects those who are over active or obese. Occurring in one or both heels, this condition causes the child pain in the bottom or back of the heel and is very tender to pressure.
  • Tendo-Achilles bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac, called the bursa, which is located between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon. Tendo-Achilles bursitis may result from an injury to the heel, or wearing poorly cushioned shoes. In certain cases a disease such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, may cause Tendo-Achilles to affect a child.
  • Fractures can cause heel pain by a break in the bone. Stress fractures often occur in young adolescents who engaged in athletic activities. Other fractures, such as acute fractures, can also cause heel pain in younger children. These fractures can be caused by a young child jumping down from something as short as two to three feet and landing on their feet.
  • Overuse can also cause heel pain. This is simply pain of the heel due to excessive activities and sports, but has not caused any damage to the child. If this occurs it is important to have the child rest so further injury is not inflicted. If the pain persists after rest however, it is most likely caused by one of the above.

The right precautions can be taken to lessen the development of heel pain in children. Avoiding child obesity, wearing the correct shoes for sports and activities, limiting the amount of strenuous exercise a child participates in and avoid activity beyond the limits of the child’s abilities.

Heel Pain Treatment

Heel pain relief may be achieved in a variety of treatment options in which your podiatrist may suggest. These options change according to the severity of the heel pain. If the foot and heel pain is mild the child may just need to reduce activity, use shoe inserts or wear more comfortable shoes. If the pain in heel is moderate certain anti-inflammatory drugs may be suggested along with physical therapy to promote healing in inflamed tissues or certain orthotic devices to help support the foot correctly.In severe cases of heel pain immobilization of the area may be necessary, this includes crutches or a cast to ensure the healing of the affected heel and to avoid placing any weight on the affected foot. When immobilization is used often times it is followed up with physical therapy or the use of an orthotic device. Although surgery is seldom needed, there are cases in which the lengthening of the tendon is required to correct the issues causing pain in heel of foot.

Let Us Help You

As director of the Colorado Foot Institute,Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive RearFoot and Ankle surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions.  He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of PodiatricMedicine (DPM) from the the Dr. William M.Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American Collegeof Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate,American Board of Podiatric Surgery.  He is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery.

With his expertise in foot care, Dr. Mechanik can help you manage your child’s foot pains and monitor them for any future problems that may occur. He and his family are natives of the Denver area. You can schedule an appointment by calling our office at 303-333-3383.