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Heel pain, a common complaint in adults, can be a serious condition in children too.  While the main cause of heel pain in adults is plantar fasciitis, the same is not true for children.

Video: Treating Children’s Heel Pain

Has your child withdrawn from his or her normal activities due to heel pain? As parents, we always want what’s best for our kids. Seek help from Tony Abbott, D.Ch. in Collingwood, ON.

The main source for heel pain in children comes from irritation of the growth plate on the back of the heel bone (calcaneus).  This is called calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s disease.  As children develop, the foot is one of the first body parts to grow to its full size which usually occurs in early puberty.  During this period, the child’s bones often grow at a faster rate than the muscles and tendons.  As a result, the muscles and tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, become tight.

The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone.  With repeat trauma, as in sports, the Achilles tendon can exert excess pressure on the heel, leading to an injury or disturbance of the growth plate.

Sever’s disease is most common among growing, active children, ages 10-14.  It is more common in boys, but it can occur in girls.  Girls tend to have a slightly younger age of onset, 8-10.   Pain usually only occurs on one side, but it can affect both heels.   Children at risk often have tight calf muscles (ankle equines).  If your child constantly walks on his toes this may be due to short or tight calf muscles.  In most cases, this can be easily addressed by performing the proper stretches at home.

Children that are very active in sports such as baseball, soccer, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, ballet, and figure skating are more at risk.  But really any activity that has your child running, jumping, or stressing their feet will put them at risk.  These activities cause repeated micro-trauma (small tears), resulting in inflammation and pain.


  • Pain that begins after activity, such as prolonged walking, standing, or running.
  • Pain is usually felt at the back and side of the heel bone.
  • Squeezing the heel bone often elicits increased pain.
  • Limping or toe walking.
  • Pain usually inhibits participation in sports activity

Check our next post (Part 2) to find out if your children can ever play sports again!

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jim babato
February 28th, 2011 01:47 pm
good info, I’ve seen more Sever’s this past year than in any other year, mostly in kids playing competive sports. I look forward to reading part 2.
Previous Page Top Of Page Posted: Feb 23,2011 By: Tony Abbott