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Calcaneal Apophysitis: Heel Pain in Children

Heel Pain in Children: Calcaneal Apophysitis

You may know this as “Sever’s Disease” but not to fear parents, this is not actually a disease!

What is it?

– The technical term is “Calcaneal Apophysitis” which relates to inflammation and/or irritation of the growth plate of the heel bone (also known as the calcaneus)
– It is associated with normal bone growth mediated by hormones between the ages of 8 and 14
– One or both feet may be affected

Who is affected?

– Common problem seen in primary school aged children
– Characterised by heel pain usually occurring during or after sport
– Largely seen in physically active children who play a lot of court sport i.e. basketball or indoor soccer

What causes it?

– The calf muscle (the large bulky muscle in the back of the leg) attaches to this growth plate via the Achilles tendon (the strong fibrous cord at the back of each heel)
– During a growth spurt the heel bone (calcaneus) usually grows a little faster than the muscle (calf)
– This results in a constant tension or tugging of the tendon on the growth plate which can lead to pain at the back and sides of one or both heels

What can I do if I suspect my child has calcaneal apophysitis? Does my child have to stop playing sport?

Well…we’ve got you sorted! When your child comes to the clinic, we will conduct a number of assessments that look at the structure and function of the joints and muscles within your child’s feet. We will also evaluate current sports/training programs and assess footwear. The information we gather will be used to rule out other potential causes of heel pain as well as towards the development of a management plan to get your child continuing to play and enjoy all of their favourite sports!

Some interventions that may be used to alleviate or reduce pain include:

– Recommendations towards supportive and cushioning footwear
– Some little heel raises to be placed in shoes
– Post activity advice (such as icing)
– Calf stretching
– Orthotics
– Taping

Don’t worry parents, this is not a life sentence this condition is easily treated!