Learn the Causes of Heel Pain in Kids, and Find Treatment Options

Heel pain in kids is a common problem—but that doesn’t mean it’s a sign of ‘normal’ growing pains.  Instead, the discomfort may be caused by one of several conditions. Now, the most common cause of heel pain in children is Sever’s disease. But Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis or even a broken heel bone could be to blame. Want to figure out what’s hurting your child and get the right relief?  Dive into this post with us, to find the answers you need!  

Sever’s Disease Causes Heel Pain in Kids 

If you have an athletic child aged 7-15 with heel pain, Sever’s disease (or Calcaneal Apophysitis) is probably to blame. This is a condition that develops when children experience a rapid growth spurt. 

Why is that the case? When the heel bone size increases quickly, the surrounding muscles and tendons feel the heat, often becoming overstretched and inflamed.  Now, this kind of heel pain in kids is differentiated by gender. Girls are at the greatest risk for Sever’s disease from seven to 13 years of age, while boys risk is greatest starting at 10 and lasting until they turn 15. Still, Sever’s disease can impact children as early as age five, particularly when they are extremely active. 

Signs and Symptoms

Sever’s disease pain is centralized around the inside, back or outside of the heel. Typically, this kind of heel pain in kids gets worse when children are running around—sometimes, the discomfort is so severe it leaves your child limping. It usually improves during rest periods, though some discomfort may linger. And there will be sharp pain when your squeeze the child’s heel bone from both sides. Sever’s disease can affect both heels or just one.   

Diagnosing Sever’s Disease in DeSoto, TX

To diagnose Sever’s disease, we’ll conduct a complete review of your child’s athletic activities and general medical history. In addition to a physical exam, we will take x-rays of your child’s foot. This will help rule out other injuries and come to the right diagnosis. 

Treating heel pain in children caused by Sever’s disease?

If your child is dealing with a new case of Sever’s disease, we will probably recommend taking a week off of strenuous athletic activities. During that time, we’ll suggest regularly icing the affected heel. And we may suggested a short course of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to manage inflammation and pain. If this break period resolves your child’s discomfort, we’ll help him or her ease back into full activity mode, but we’ll make corrections to prevent reinjury. Likely changes will include finding more supportive foot gear, or adding custom orthotics for adequate injury prevention.  

But what happens if, even with these precautions, the heel pain keeps returning? In this case, a custom orthotic will be critical. And some patients may need foot immobilization to allow full healing to take place. Now, that’s an extreme measure, but even kids who don’t need casting may benefit from wrapping their affected heel and ankle during athletic activities. Compression gear could help prevent swelling and pain. And physical therapy focused on stretching and strength building can help keep Sever’s disease from returning. 

Will kids outgrow Sever’s disease?

Just to reiterate: you should never wait for kids to outgrow heel pain. (Or any type of foot or ankle pain, for that matter.) Now, some kids may naturally outgrow the pain of Sever’s disease. But that process could take years, and dramatically impact their quality of life. Instead, by seeking early treatment, you can offer your child quick relief from the pain of this condition, allowing them to get right back to doing what they love. Plus, delaying treatment for Sever’s disease increases your child’s risk for a heel bone fracture—an outcome we know you want to avoid!  

Stop Sever’s Disease from Coming Back

In order to keep Sever’s disease in your child’s rearview mirror, you have to follow a few simple guidelines. 

  1. Buy athletic shoes that fit properly and are designed with sufficient padding in their soles
  2. Keep children in lightweight foot wear and avoid high heels at all costs  
  3. Encourage stretching before and after kids engage in physical activity
  4. After playing sports, children can ice their heels for up to 20, making sure to keep the ice from direct contact with your child’s skin  
  5. Make sure your child wears prescribed orthotic devices  
  6. Help your child reach a healthy weight to remove excess pressure from the heels 

Other Causes of Children’s Heel Pain: Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and Fractures 

If Sever’s disease is not the problem, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis or a broken bone may be causing heel pain for your child. Of course, sometimes it can be hard to figure out the source of the problem. For that reason, it’s crucial to make an immediate appointment with Dr. Lisa Brandy at the first sign of trouble. This is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and begin the proper treatment plan, before your child’s pain gets worse.  

What is Achilles Tendinitis? 

Achilles tendinitis describes inflammation at the point where the tendon connects to your child’s heel. This is also common injury for active children, most often when they rapidly increase the duration or intensity of activities. To treat Achilles tendinitis in kids, we usually suggest ice, rest and elevation. Some children may need custom orthotics after they recover. Otherwise, the heel pain will return as soon as they jump back into their favorite activities. 

Plantar Fasciitis in Kids

This cause of heel pain in kids develops when one of the long tendons running across the bottom of their feet (called the plantar fascia) gets stretched or torn. In this case, your child may complain that their heels hurt the most when they first get out of bed. And that’s because, with this injury, standing up after an extended period of rest can painfully stretch out this injured tendon. 

If plantar fasciitis is to blame, the treatment protocol for kids will be similar to that for Achilles tendonitis. With quick and appropriate care, we can quickly resolve this cause of children’s heel pain. 

Resolving Heel Pain for Kids in DeSoto 

Regardless of what’s causing heel pain in kids, our office is your destination for relief! Remember that children’s pain is never a normal part of growing up, so you shouldn’t wait until they outgrow discomfort. Instead, request an appointment with Dr. Brandy as soon as your child mentions heel pain. We’ll get you in as soon as possible, so your child can get enjoy a pain free return to the athletic field and playground.  

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Tuesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:00am - Noon


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1801 N. Hampton Road
Suite 340
DeSoto, TX 75115

Inside the Inwood National Bank Building on the 3rd Floor

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