Most children are fairly durable. They fall, get bruised or cut, and bounce back quickly. However, when they constantly complain of pain in their heels, it could be more than the typical injury. Often pain functions as a warning sign that something is wrong. For children and young teenagers, heel pain can be a sign of Sever’s disease. Fortunately, this condition can be easily treated with conservative measures and no long-term effects.
Sever’s disease is the inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. While this may sound scary, it is a common condition in active kids and young teenagers who are going through growth spurts. The feet tend to expand to their adult size before the rest of the body. The rapid changes pull on the connective tissues attached to the calcaneus, or heel bone—especially the Achilles tendon. When the child is active, the pounding and strain from their activity pulls on the tendon even more. The stress from all of this causes the irritation.
Typically the pain increases over time as the inflammation worsens. The child complains of discomfort in the very back of the heel, especially when they are active, and feels better when resting. The rear foot can be tender to the touch and may be mildly swollen. Some children may try to avoid putting pressure on the back of the foot, creating a limp or awkward gait. In cases where the problem is present for long periods of time, the bone may even become somewhat enlarged. It’s common for the problem to develop in both heels.
Treating the Pain
Heel pain can interrupt your child’s active life and keep them from doing what they love, but it doesn’t have to. This condition can be treated very successfully using conservative measures. The sooner the pain is addressed, the more quickly your child will heal. Dr. Noah Levine can examine your child’s feet to determine if the problem really is Sever’s disease or another condition. Once the exact cause has been diagnosed, he will work with you to develop a path for treatment to eliminate the pain and return your child to his or her activities.
Your child will need to rest for a time. Since the inflammation is increased by activity, the child will need to limit his or hers and allow the swelling to go down. Icing can help reduce irritation as well. You may be given some physical therapy exercises for your child to perform to help stretch out the tightened tendons and muscles. A wrap or brace can help compress the foot and reduce swelling. He or she may need more supportive shoes with cushioned soles as well, or orthotics to add that extra layer of protection. Typically the problem is resolved in anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the severity of the case.
Sever’s disease is a painful condition that is common in active children and teenagers. The discomfort in the heels can interrupt their active lifestyle. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some careful treatment and a little monitoring, your child can be pain-free and back to playing. The longer the problem goes untreated, the harder it is to remedy, so don’t wait. Instead contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas for more information or an appointment. Call (702) 839-2010, or visit our online contact page to reach us.