No parent wants to see their child in pain and heel pain in children is no different. While heel pain is a common childhood complaint and one that many parents simply monitor in the hopes it will go away, the fact is heel pain is often the symptom of an underlying condition. When pediatric heel pain doesn’t go away, it is often the sign of an underlying condition and should prompt a visit with a pediatric podiatrist.
Signs of Heel Pain in Children
If your child can easily communicate, then they are likely to voice that they are experiencing foot or heel pain. However, sometimes they may only be experiencing discomfort and assume it will simply go away. In these cases, there are signs that you, as a parent, can identify that may indicate a potential foot concern. These signs can include:
- An abnormal gait, such as walking on the toes.
- Limping or avoiding weight-bearing on the painful heel.
- Slowing down or an inability to keep up with friends and family.
- An injury during a sporting event.
- Swelling, redness, or pain in the heel or foot.
- A withdrawal from normal activities.
Common Causes of Heel Pain
While heel pain in adults can often be a sign of plantar fasciitis, or an inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel to the toes, heel pain in children is often an indication of other concerns.
- Sever’s Disease – the most common cause of pediatric heel pain, Sever’s Disease is actually not a disease, but rather inflammation of the heel’s growth plate due to muscle strain or repetitive stress. This commonly occurs in active children participating in sports or in obese children.
- Tendo-Achilles Bursitis – This is the inflammation of the bursa, or fluid-filled sac between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone. This often occurs after a heel injury, but can also occur when wearing poorly cushioned shoes. It can also be a sign of an underlying condition known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Overuse Syndromes – A child’s heel growth plate is sensitive to repetitive motion and pediatric heel pain is often the sign of overuse. This is especially true in children that participate in sports that involve repeated running and pounding on hard surfaces.
- Fractures – Stress fractures are common with repeated stress on the heel hone, such as with gymnasts, while acute fractures can occur from a simple awkward jump.
When It Is Time to See a Podiatrist
So how do you know when your child should see a podiatrist? If heel pain remains constant or prolonged, it is advised that they see a podiatrist in order to rule out any underlying conditions and address what may be causing the pain. If left untreated, regular heel pain can lead to trouble walking and more complicated therapy to address the condition. Seeing a podiatrist at the first signs of heel pain will help prevent potential foot concerns.
The team at Shady Grove Podiatry specialize in pediatric foot conditions and can determine what is at the root cause of your child’s heel pain. If your child is experiencing heel pain, contact the team today at 301-948-2995 to schedule a consultation.