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Is your child experiencing heel pain? Calcaneal Apophysitis

Is your child experiencing heel pain? It’s not uncommon for kids who engage in high-impact sports or activities to develop a condition called calcaneal apophysitis, also known as Sever’s disease. This painful condition occurs when the growth plate at the back of the heel becomes inflamed due to repetitive stress or injury

What is Calcaneal Apophysitis?

Calcaneal apophysitis is pain which presents at the heel/s due to inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. Growth plates are pieces of cartilage between the bones of children and adolescents, that with age, growth plates harden into bone.

Onset of pain will worsen during high-impact sports and activities which add pressure on the growth plate of the heel.

Who does it affect mainly?

Children aged between 8 and 14. The condition typically affects children between the ages of 8 and 14, although it can occur in younger or older children. It is more common in boys than in girls, and it usually affects only one foot. The pain may come and go, and it may be worse after physical activity or at the end of the day.

What are the risk factors of Calcaneal Apophysitis?

  • High-impact loading activities: Activities that involve running and jumping on hard surfaces, such as pavement or gym floors, can put significant stress on the heel bone and lead to inflammation of the growth plate.
  • Inappropriate footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate cushioning and support for high impact load activities can increase the stress on the heel bone and contribute to the development of calcaneal apophysitis.
  • Being overweight: Excess weight can put additional stress on the heel bone and increase the risk of inflammation in the growth plate.
  • Tightness in the calf muscles: Tight calf muscles can increase the stress on the heel bone and lead to inflammation in the growth plate. This can be particularly problematic in children who are still growing, as the heel bone is not fully developed and is therefore more susceptible to injury.

How is Calcaneal Apophysitis diagnosed?

  • Through examination by a Podiatrist, GP or other health professional: A doctor or other health professional will typically begin by performing a physical examination of the affected foot, looking for signs of tenderness or swelling around the heel bone. They may also ask about the child’s symptoms, medical history, and any recent changes in activity level.
  • Imaging as required: In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes of heel pain.
  • Laboratory testing as required: While laboratory testing is not typically used to diagnose calcaneal apophysitis, blood tests or other diagnostic tests may be ordered if the doctor suspects an underlying medical condition is contributing to the child’s symptoms.

What are the treatment options for Calcaneal Apophysitis?

  • Resting/reducing heavy load activities: This can help reduce inflammation and give the growth plate a chance to heal.
  • Icing the area to reduce inflammation: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation and applying it to the heel for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Massage and stretching: Gentle massage and stretching of the foot and calf muscles can help relieve tension and improve flexibility. This can be particularly helpful for children with tight calf muscles, which can contribute to the development of calcaneal apophysitis.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: In some cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may be recommended to help reduce pain and inflammation. However, it’s important to follow the recommended dosages and consult with a doctor before giving any medication to a child.

]If your child is experiencing heel pain, book in with one of our Podiatrists for an assessment by calling the clinic on 8255 5575 or booking online via our website.