The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in the human foot. In children, the heel is still growing, and the growth plate can become inflamed with overuse, especially among kids who play sports such as soccer or basketball. This condition is called calcaneal apophysitis, or Sever's Disease.
If your active child complains of persistent heel pain or is avoiding activity due to pain, and they're not responding to rest, icing, or over-the-counter medications, it's time to visit an APMA-member podiatrist.
The podiatric physician will examine the area. They may take X-rays to rule out any other pathology, but diagnosis of Sever's Disease is usually based on a clinical exam.
Treatment is to reduce inflammation with oral steroids or anti-inflammatory medications. Your podiatrist may suggest calf stretches or prescribe a soft heel cup or orthotics to help reduce shock to the growth plate. The goal is to ensure kids can get back to their activities without pain.
Sometimes reduction of activity is required, or immobilization in a walking boot, but usually Sever's Disease clears up with conservative treatment.