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Heel Pain in Children

Do your kids tell you everything? Probably not, and that goes triple for how they’re feeling. How was school? – Fine. How’d your math exam go? -Good. Unless you dig a little, ask some pointed questions, you wouldn’t know that something happened and it’s not all fine and good.

It can be the same with physical problems. Kids aren’t always very forthcoming about what’s bothering them. That’s why it’s important for parents to notice changes in their behavior. If a previously active child decides to quit the soccer team, parents need to rule out a physical disability.

One of the reasons behind a child’s sudden disinterest in sports is foot pain. Specifically, heel pain – one of the most common conditions we treat here at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia.

Several causes

Heel pain in children has several things in common with heel pain in adults. Both can get

  • Plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the thick tissue that runs underneath the foot and supports the arch
  • Achilles tendinitis – inflammation of the tendon that connects the back of the heel to the calf muscle
  • Bone fractures – a sudden impact (like a fall) or repeated actions (like jumping and kicking) can cause small cracks, known as stress fractures, or complete breaks in the heel bone.

Most common cause

However, heel pain in young children is very often due to Sever’s disease. Sever’s disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is an injury to the heel’s growth plate. All kids have areas of cartilage at the ends of some bones. Known as growth plates, they facilitate bone lengthening until puberty, when bones stop growing.

When the heel’s thin, flexible growth plate is injured by overuse or sudden trauma, a child may limp and feel

  • general pain in the back of the heel
  • tenderness when the heel is squeezed
  • swelling, redness, and warmth in the heel area

When treated, Sever’s disease doesn’t pose any long-term threats to your child’s foot health. If your child has heel pain, make an appointment with our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm. Please call us at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online for expert diagnosis and treatment.

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