Conquering Your Childs Heel Pain: 5 Effective Strategies to Mastering Your Management

Sever's disease, or calcaneal traction apophysitis, commonly affects children aged 8-14 years old, causing heel pain due to the inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. The growth plate in the heel bone isn't fully developed at this stage, rendering it vulnerable to injury and inflammation. If your child is dealing with this issue, effective strategies can be applied to mitigate pain and expedite healing.

Through our 30 years combined training and clinical experience in Physiotherapy and Podiatry, we have seen and helped hundreds of children go from frustrated, sedentary and unable to play with friends or family, back into full swing and returned to their best.

These 5 Tips are things we use everyday to get them there.

1. Minimize Physical Activity Immediately

As soon as your child begins experiencing significant or recurrent heel pain, it's essentially time to decrease their physical activity or sport. Prolonged or intense physical exertion may further irritate the inflamed growth plate and exacerbate the pain or the time taken to heal from the injury.

2. Adopt the Use of Crutches or Assisted Walking Devices

To reduce the load and pressure on the affected heel, consider using crutches or other assisted walking devices like a The Severs Sleeve or when severe enough, a moon boot. This may seem drastic, but it will help you police the aggravating factors sooner. This will also allow the inflamed bone to rest and recover more quickly, and progress rehab to start sooner. 

3. Apply Ice and Utilize Anti-inflammatory Treatments

Regular use of ice packs for 20 minutes at a time 4-5 times a day and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can greatly help reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain. However, always consult your doctor before starting any medications to ensure that this is safe for your child to take.

4. Don't Stretch - Instead Foam Rolling, Massage, and Percussion Guns

Stretching actually will make things a little long term worse - as the name suggests, traction is already causing the problem! Various physical therapies like deep tissue massage, foam or cork ball rolling to the calf and achilles as well as the bottom of the feet can provide relief by soothing the affected muscles and tissues around the inflamed growth plate. Percussion guns are new to the game, but are designed to do similar things. Be wary not to venture too close to the bone when doing any of these!

5. Gradual Reloading When Pain-Free

When the pain subsides to less than 3/10 pain for your child, don't rush back into normal activities! This is the common trap. Gradually reintroduce physical activity to ensure the heel has completely healed and to prevent re-injury. Start by doing heel raise holds for 30-45s x 3-5/day with at least 2 hours between bouts. Also encourage them to with you on small walks of about 10-15 minutes a day. If this goes well add 5 minutes every week and then follow this link for more on exercise progressions. 

If you use these 5 Tips and follow them well, you can put your child in prime healing mode and get them ready to catapult back into their body's best performance ability.

From Pain to Performance

The Orthopaedic Sleeve Society



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.