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Family Foot & Ankle

Is Your Child at Risk for Heel Pain?

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We know—nothing is more difficult than seeing your child in pain. Kids are a resilient bunch, of course—most will bounce back quickly from bumps and bruises—but a child hobbling with heel pain can still be a major concern, especially if it’s keeping them from enjoying cherished sports or playing with friends.

Heel pain usually works a little differently in kids than in adults. While plantar fasciitis might be suspect No. 1 for an adult with pain, kids are more likely to suffer from a condition known as Sever’s disease, an inflammation of the exposed growth plate at the back of the heel.

How do you know if your child is at risk? There are a few good clues:

  • Sever’s disease is most common during adolescent growth spurts. Girls usually go through this period sometime between ages 8 and 13; for boys the range is closer to 10-15. Peak susceptibility is often in the early portion of those ranges; the back of the heel is usually fully grown by age 15 or so.
  • Physically active children are generally more at risk than more sedentary kids, as running and jumping puts repeated stress on the growth plate. Soccer and cross-country—both fall sports in full swing here in Ohio and Kentucky—are common culprits.
  • One exception to the physical activity guideline—children who struggle with obesity are also at heightened risk due to excess weight-related force on the heel.
  • Certain foot structures—such as having flat feet, high arches, or feet that point outward rather than straight ahead when standing or walking—can cause tightness in the Achilles tendon, which contributes to the forces on the growth plate.

The good news is that this condition is self-limiting. As your child matures, the discomfort will subside, and will leave no lasting damage. That said, if your son or daughter is suffering from sore heels, especially pain that is severe enough to make walking or playing difficult, bring him or her to see the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center. Our podiatrists are committed to helping your child return to full health and get back on the field as quickly as possible. To set up an appointment at one of our six Greater Cincinnati locations, give us a call at 888-689-3317.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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