As is the case with kids everywhere, there are many youth in Indianapolis who don’t know how good they have it. Students don’t have to walk 5 miles to get to and from school (uphill both ways!) in raging blizzards like we did when we were young. If they need to look something up, they have all the information in the world in their smartphones. And there are countless opportunities to play their favorite sports, including a great organization that helps kids that do not have it very good – Indy PAL (Indianapolis Police Athletic League).
Indy PAL has been providing “a positive link between the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the youth of the city” for more than 65 years now. Since its inception, countless at-risk youth have been able to participate in structured activities to promote personal growth and healthy lifestyles.
Of course, all the benefits of physical activity—and they are myriad—aren’t realized if a child is suffering from a problem like heel pain!
Heel pain in children is a fairly common problem – even one your favorite go-to foot doc experienced when he was younger. In most instances, the cause of adolescent heel pain is a condition known as Sever’s disease. More formally called calcaneal apophysitis, this condition is exacerbated by activities and sports that feature running and jumping, and especially when performed on hard surfaces (like a basketball court or dried soccer field).
The name of this condition, much like Grape Nuts (which feature neither grapes nor nuts), is a bit misleading. Sever’s isn’t actually a disease, per se. Rather, this is a condition that develops when a growth plate in the back of the heel bone (calcaneus) is compressed. This will be a potential problem until the child reaches physical maturity – kind of like how girls tend to mature before boys.
Part of the problem is that a tight Achilles tendon that anchors to the back of the heel bone creates too much compression. This causes tugging at the growth center, which is the source of the pain.
In addition, the tight Achilles can amplify overpronation – and that comes with even more issues. One of the treatment options we may prescribe for Sever’s is orthotic therapy. A pair of custom orthotics, used as intended, can actually help with both issues. (Orthotics are sometimes prescribed to address overpronation and other biomechanical abnormalities.)
Since the problem is caused by a tight tendon, another treatment method that can be rather effective is a regular stretching regimen to keep the tendon limber. Some people think rest is beneficial for this source of teen heel pain, but that is actually not the case at all. At best, rest is useless. At worst, it can contribute to further pain and cause greater issues for your child down the road.
We can treat this condition for your child. This is important to know because you want your son or daughter to have every opportunity possible. To ensure your child is treated correctly, your first move is to bring him or her in for an appointment.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a proper diagnosis for child heel pain (or any medical condition or sports injury, actually). We once had a patient who had been misdiagnosed by a family doctor (and not a foot specialist) and the poor child missed out on playing soccer—his favorite sport—for 2 years!
Before signing off, a quick reminder: if you have any old athletic shoes or equipment, please consider donating these items to Indy PAL. This wonderful organization relies on the generosity of residents just like you to continue making a positive difference in our community. So the next time you’re cleaning out the closet, put these items aside. If you don’t have the time to deliver them yourself, bring them along to your next appointment and we will be more than glad to drop them off for you!
Don't let your child suffer. Contact our Indianapolis office and request an appointment with a doctor who knows firsthand what it’s like to have Sever’s! Call (317) 545-0505 today!