Heel pain (and knee and hip pain) are incredibly common issues for kids entering puberty. We all want our kids to be active and healthy – but what do you do when keeping them active seems to be causing heel pain? What in the world could it be?
A common cause of heel pain in children aged between 8 and 14 years of age is a condition known as Severs Disease. The name sounds harrowing, but it is not a disease. Severs is an irritation of the growth area in the heel.
Causes of Severs:
- Excessive and/or intensive physical activity
- Prolonged periods of barefoot or thong walking
- Recent height or weight gain
- Tight calf muscles
- Poor footwear
- Physical activity on harder surfaces
Sever’s usually affects active kids who are involved in sports with explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and kicking (hello soccer, footy, netball, basketball, running….you get the picture). One heel is usually affected, but in some cases both heels can be affected.
Symptoms of Severs include:
- Pain around the Achilles tendon (right at the back of the heel)
- Pain during running, kicking or jumping
- Pain is worse after exercise
- Swelling of the Achilles tendon
- Stiffness in the calf muscle
- Limping (in moderate to severe cases)
There are a few things that you can do to relieve some of your child’s heel pain – and yes these things all do sound familiar:
- Rest: cut down some of the physical activity they are doing.
- Ice: after exercise when it is at its worst.
- Appropriate footwear: update those sneakers and get some serious cushioning.
- Shoe inserts: may be appropriate to take the tension off the Achilles tendon.
It is not necessary to ride this one out, and we all agree that keeping kids active is really important during those tween and early teen years. See a physiotherapist for a speedy recovery and good management.