Our Ocean Grove podiatrist, Andrew Crutch gives you 5 top tips to reduce heel pain!
An increase in activity for children especially after a longer time away from sport can turn into niggling pain. Children are so excited to play that we don’t want foot pain stopping them from playing and enjoying keeping active.
What causes heel pain in children?
Children from 7-14 can go through rapid growth spurts in which the bones grow faster than the muscles and this leads to pulling of the Achilles tendon on the heel.
Signs & Symptoms
- Your child may have pain in the heel (or even vague foot pain) during or after activity and sport
- They may also have stiffness in the back of the leg with associated heel pain when they get up in the morning or getting up after they have been sitting down for a while
- You may notice your child limping, or walking and running differently to usual
- Your child may begin walking on their toes as its painful to weight bear on the heel
Treatment of Calcaneal Apophysitis/Sever’s disease is about addressing both the symptoms (the pain your child has) and also the causative factors (the reasons they have the pain).
We love keeping kids active, healthy and happy so here are the 5 top things you can do to help:
Shoes play a major role in reducing heel pain and it is essential that your child is in the correct footwear. As children spend the majority of time in their school shoes having school shoes which provide support and are really cushioned appropriately is key. This goes for sports shoes too, we want our children in shoes appropriate to the activity to help support their feet. Check out our blog on Best School Shoes for 2020 here!
- Flexible inserts (Orthotics)
Flexible inserts are often used to help improve the efficiency of the foot and reduce the load on the affected tissue at the heel… especially during the symptomatic (painful) stage. This helps to reduce load through the heel and therefore improves the discomfort. Children’s inserts need to be flexible and move with the foot to enable the 26 little bones in each foot to move and function efficiently while cushioning and supporting the heel.
- Mobility & Strength
During a growth spurt, tight calves can lead to pulling on the Achilles tendon and the heel. Stretching is essential as part of the treatment regime. We also want to improve the strength of the calf muscle so the Achilles Tendon does not have to work as hard.
Calcaneal Apophysitis is an overuse injury, The tissue is under more stress than it can handle, the more activity the child is involved in the more strain in places on the growth plate. We want to try and address all the above factors before considering decreasing the load. In some persistent cases, your child may need relative rest so instead of playing three games of basketball in one day they may only play two or don’t run the extra lap of the footy oval during footy training.
- Pain Relief
In persistent cases, a cold compress over the Achilles & heel can work well or use of topical anti-inflammatories such as Voltaren can help.
It is important to note once the growth plate ossifies the pain will subside and there are no long term effects of Calcaneal Apophysitis but during this period we want your child to be able to do the things they love pain free.
If you think your child is suffering from heel pain we’d love to help.