Can kids have heel pain? Well, children seem almost indestructible at times, bouncing back from tumbles that are almost too painful to watch. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as capable of developing the same injuries as their adult counterparts. This includes heel pain. In fact, you may be surprised to know that there are periods in your child’s life where they actually may be more susceptible to heel pain than adults.
Growing Pains Are Real
Your child’s body goes through too many changes to count as they gradually transform from an infant to a fully functional adult. During major growth spurts, these changes may put additional strains on your child’s joints and tendons. The heels are just one example.
Can Kids Have Heel Pain?
It is actually fairly common for children to experience heel pain on occasion between the ages of 8 and 15. If the pain isn’t responding to typical at-home remedies, then you will need to contact your child’s foot doctor in order to discuss further heel pain treatment.
Childhood Sports Injuries
Both athletic children and overweight children are more likely to develop heel pain at some point during their childhood. Their higher risk is simply a result of increased stress. In the same way that excess weight increases consistent stress on the tendons that support the heel, frequent running and jumping also contributes to higher rates of heel pain in children.
In the case of athletic children, pediatric foot and ankle doctors do see an uptick in cases of heel pain during the fall and winter sports seasons. You should always take your child’s complaints seriously, but you may want to check in with them more frequently during the height of their particular sport’s season.
Before rushing off to your child’s foot and ankle doctor, it is often best to try an at-home treatment if your child is experiencing mild to moderate heel pain. You can use the acronym RICE to remember what to do. RICE stands for:
- Rest: Have your child take a few days off from strenuous activity. Depending on how active your child normally is, you may consider having their teacher send work home for them to ensure proper rest. This is the perfect time to bring out the video games so that your child’s heel gets a nice break.
- Ice: Apply a cold compress to your child’s heel(s) twice a day for 10-15 minutes at a time. Remember to not apply an ice pack directly to their skin. A thinner kitchen towel wrapped around the ice pack usually works well.
- Compression: If your child’s heel appears a little swollen, then you should pick up a compression sock from your local drug store. You may also use a compression tape, but you should only do that if you’re experienced. It’s far too easy to make compression tape too tight or too loose. Of course, if your child’s heel is severely swollen, then you should take them directly to the doctor.
- Elevation: While your child spends a few days as an enviable couch potato, set them up with a few pillows to keep the affected heel(s) elevated above the level of their heart. This will help to improve circulation.
When RICE Doesn’t Work
RICE is designed to treat temporary irritation. If your child’s heel pain doesn’t respond to a few days of TLC, then it’s time to talk to your doctor. You could wait, but the truth is that your child’s pain is unlikely to go away and will likely get worse over time.
A brief examination and some imagining will help your pediatric foot and ankle doctor to determine the cause of your child’s heel pain, so you can start treatment right away. In many cases, a little physical therapy and specialized shoe inserts are more than enough to get your little one running again. However, for more serious cases chronic heel spurs surgery may be an option when non-surgical options fail.
Either way, heel pain is relatively easy to address as long as you listen to your child and get them to a doctor before the condition becomes more serious.