Heel Pain in Children

Summer is coming to a close and fall sports are gearing up!  This can be a very important time to watch for heel and arch pain in your kids. At Kansas City Foot and Ankle, we see several children daily who are experiencing heel and arch pain.  The pain seems especially intense after sports activities such as practices and games.  Often, the heel pain starts intermittently.  However, within a few weeks it can become more consistent and painful.  In time, it may even start to affect their performance.  It is important to get this type of pain evaluated early.  Consequently, waiting may cause the pain to intensify and make a significant impact on your child.

heel pain

Two common conditions that cause heel pain are:
  1. Plantar fasciitis: inflammation of the long ligament on the bottom of the heel and arch.
  2. Achilles tendonitis: inflammation of the large tendon behind the ankle that attaches to the back of the heel.

Children with overly flat feet are at more risk for developing plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.  This is due to mechanical instability of the foot.  Increased activity such as playing sports can cause repetitive and excessive stretching of the plantar fascia and Achilles.  This constant stretching and stress may lead to inflammation and pain.

An additional, quite common, cause of heel pain in children is Sever’s disease.  Sever’s isn’t really a disease per se, it’s more of a condition.  Sever’s is inflammation of the growth center of the heel bone. During sports and activities, the growth center of the heel bone gets pulled by the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.  Over time, this can cause pain and inflammation.  Sever’s disease is usually worse during and after physical activities.

Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and Sever’s disease all respond well to conservative treatments.  The best treatments are stretching, heel lifts, rest, and ice.  We may also recommend custom molded orthotics.  Custom orthotics will address the instability of the foot that is commonly the root cause of these painful conditions. Physical therapy may also be helpful.

So if your child tells you that their feet or heels are hurting, call our office to schedule an appointment.  One of our foot and ankle experts will get them back to playing quickly!  Call 816-943-1111 to schedule an appointment today.