It is that time of year again. Returning to school and those extra curricular activities. Kids are excited about sports and band practice, but this sudden increase in activity can cause them to have heel pain. Pediatric heel pain is nothing to ignore. It is not your typical adult heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis and will not go away with advil alone. It can be excruciating for some children to the point they cannot walk. So what is it really and why does it happen?
Calcaneal apophysitis is the medical term for inflammation of the growth plate in the heel caused by the pull of the plantar fascia below it and the Achilles tendon above it. As we grow, the bones in the legs get longer, but the muscles and tendons have to stretch to grow with them. If these structures are tight and have not reached the same length as the bones, then they pull much harder on the growth plates. This causes significant pain that usually occurs after activity and improves with rest. Other symptoms including swelling of the heels, pain with pressure and increased warmth.
Treating pediatric heel pain early is important. In our office, youf child will be fully evaluated including x-rays to make sure that the growth plate is normal and the pain is not caused from other reasons like a stress fracture. Rest, ice and stretching are key factors in treating heel pain in children. Appropriate shoe gear, orthotics and physical therapy will also improve their pain and reduce recurrence. In severe cases, complete immobilization may be necessary.
If your child is complaining of heel pain, don’t ignore it. This pain can prevent them from participating in the activities they enjoy. At Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas, we are here to get your children back in the game!