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Help! My Child Keeps Getting Heel Pain

Help! My Child Keeps Getting Heel Pain

As a parent, watching your child suffer from any form of pain can be distressing, and heel pain is no exception. Heel pain in children is not uncommon and can often be a source of worry. However, understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you navigate this challenge effectively.

The experienced sports medicine team at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine in Kirkland, Washington, offers the following advice for dealing with your child’s recurring heel pain.

Common causes of heel pain in children

One of the most common causes of heel pain in physically active children aged 8-14 is Sever’s disease. Sever’s disease occurs when the area at the back of the heel where growth occurs in children becomes inflamed due to repetitive stress.

Plantar fasciitis, a condition involving inflammation of the band of tissue connecting the heel to the toes, may cause heel pain. This condition is less common in children but may occur in those with very high arches or flat feet.

Overuse injuries can also lead to heel pain. These injuries result from repetitive stress without adequate rest, which doesn’t allow the tissues in the heel area to recover. Additionally, improper footwear, such as shoes that do not provide enough support or cushioning, can exacerbate this problem.

Heel pain symptoms to watch out for

The symptoms of heel pain in children can vary depending on the cause, but there are several common signs to watch out for:

Call the office if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Diagnosing heel pain in children

When you bring your child to the office, our team performs a physical examination, reviews your child's health history, and asks about their recent activities. We may also request imaging tests, such as an X-ray, to rule out fractures or other abnormalities and to examine the growth plate more closely if Sever’s disease is suspected.

Treatment options

Treatment for heel pain in children will depend on the underlying cause but generally includes:

Rest

Limit activities that cause heel pain until your child feels better.

Ice

Applying ice to the heel for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and swelling.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to ease pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy

Exercises and stretches targeting the heel muscles can help relieve pain and prevent future injuries.

Orthotic devices

Custom orthotics or over-the-counter heel cups might be recommended to provide extra support and cushioning.

Preventing heel pain

Wearing appropriate, well-fitting shoes suitable for their activities is the key to preventing heel pain in children. Encourage regular breaks during sports and gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activity. Strengthening and stretching exercises for the foot and ankle can also help maintain good foot health.

If your child complains of heel pain, don't ignore it. Early intervention can prevent the condition from worsening and help your child return to their normal activities without pain. A child’s growing body is resilient, but it also needs the right care and attention to remain healthy.

If your child has heel pain, call or schedule an appointment online for diagnosis and treatment.

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