Heel Pain in Young Athletes

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Heel Pain in Young Athletes and Pediatric Sports Injuries

Indoors and outdoors, young athlete’s stay active year-round in competitive sports. For many of them, heel pain has become just another part of the game. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons advises that, when the child complains of heel pain, it should be diagnosed promptly because it may be a warning sign of a serious foot problem. Heel pain occurs frequently and children ages 6-14 as their feet grow and the heel bone develops. As children become more active in sports, they increase the risk for growth plate injuries and subsequent heel pain. This is especially true during the school year when surgeon see any increased in middle and high school athlete’s experience heel pain from sports.

New bone forms in the area behind the heel known as the growth plate, and cartilages vulnerable to severe inflammation from strain or stress when the calf muscle is exceptionally tight and the foot is functioning abnormally and then there can be a pull on the heel bone growth plate causing a stress-type fracture.

This is a difficult condition to diagnosis but if you see your child walking with a limp or walking on her toes with a seem to be having difficulty in participating in their regular recreational activities then a radiograph, ultrasound, possibly an MRI, would be indicated to make the diagnosis to avoid long-term chronic issues.

In most cases mild to moderate heel pain can be treated successfully with modified shoes, anti-inflammatories, stretching, physical therapy in rare cases the foot and ankle need to be immobilized in a cast and very rarely surgery may be indicated.

Heel pain in young athletes often returns after treatment if continued home therapy is not performed. We can minimize the recurrence rate by ensuring that the young athlete stretches, wears the appropriate shoes, ties their shoes especially during the rehabilitation phase minimize is wearing flip-flops or sandals and stop the competition until fully resolved.