How to Deal with Kids’ Heel Pain

Is your child complaining of a sharp pain in the heels and a tightening of the calves? Do you see your child limping or walking in tip-toes? Most parents at the receiving end of this type of complaint will attribute them to overexertion, but is actually due to a growth spurt.

As a pediatric orthodontist, I have encountered the same problems before in other children. If the child experiencing heel pain plays a lot of sports that require a lot of running around in hard surfaces, this could be due to the growth of a heel that has been stretched too tight. This is called Sever’s disease, which is the inflammation at the back of the heel bone.

Why It Happens

Sever’s disease is the result of a heel bone that is still in the process of developing. A new bone is forming at the growth plate located at the back of the heel. Too much pressure on this body part triggers the pain and inflammation.

A child’s heel is not fully developed until he or she reaches 14 years of age, which is why Sever’s disease typically affects children aged 8 to 14. It often goes undiagnosed, and is more common among boys than in girls.

This usually goes away on its own within the next couple of weeks or months once the growth plate begins to close. For the meantime, you can give your child painkillers like ibuprofen to deal with the pain. Stretching exercises and massages on the heels, calves, and hamstring will help, as well as ice or cold compress. You can also buy the kid new shoes, preferably one with a well-cushioned sole that provides good arch support.

However, if the problem continues to persist in 3 to 4 months, this may indicate a more serious condition that needs to be looked at by a Los Angeles pediatric orthodontist. If this is the case, then please call or visit our clinic to have your child’s heels looked at by a medical professional.

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