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Why Active Children Get Heel Pain

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Active kids are healthier kids. Running around outside, playing sports, and generally using their bodies benefits children in so many ways. Activities build muscles and bone strength, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, control body fat and decrease the risk of obesity, and help boost your child’s mood and mental health. Like anything worthwhile in life, though, activities—particularly sports—comes with a risk for injuries. One such issue, Sever’s disease, is particularly common in growing athletes and should be something to watch for.


Sever’s disease isn’t some terrible illness, despite its intimidating name. Rather, it’s a common injury that affects active kids whose feet are still growing. The culprit is stress on the heel bone’s growth plate, generally from tight tendons and hard impacts from sports.


Why does this cause inflammation in the growth plate, especially in an active child? Well, it’s all in how your child’s foot grows.


The growth plate is a thin line of special bone tissue that allows your child’s bone to grow and get bigger over time. When your foot is done growing, the line will harden and become solid, like the rest of the heel. The issue is that, often, foot bones grow faster than the connective tissues in the lower limbs. Tendons like the Achilles end up slightly too short and have to stretch and grow to catch up. This can place extra tension on the heel bone—and since the growth plate is the weakest part of a child’s heel, it feels the strain first.


Hard impacts from sports and other activities make all of this worse. They already strain a child’s foot. Combining that with the other tensions can inflame the heel bone’s growth plate and cause pain whenever your child runs, jumps, and in some cases, just walks around.

This doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t be active, of course. Active children are healthier children—you simply have to be aware of their increased risk for heel pain and take steps to stop it. Our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC, can help you keep your son or daughter running without pain. If you’re at all concerned about a risk for Sever’s disease, or know your child already has discomfort, contact our Metairie, LA, office for an appointment. You can reach us online or by calling (504) 708-4810.


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