Big Aches for Small Feet: Healing Pediatric Heel Pain


“Mom, my feet hurt!” While you may have heard these words countless times when hiking, walking, or wandering the store for back-to-school bargains, you should resist the temptation to tune them out, as they may be an early sign of pediatric heel pain

How is pediatric heel pain different from adult heel pain?

Adult heel pain—or plantar fasciitis—typically reaches its peak early in the morning when you first rise from bed, gradually subsiding over the course of the day. Pediatric heel pain, however, does not lessen later in the day; in fact, the pain tends to worsen as children walk and run around. This is due, in part, to children’s growing heel bone—or calcaneus—which does not finish developing until age 14 or older. The most common cause of child heel pain is stress on the heel’s growth plate, the physis. 

What are the signs of pediatric heel pain?

While the sensation of heel pain differs from child to child, the most common symptoms to look for are:

  • limping or toe-walking
  • difficulty participating in sports or athletics
  • pain in the bottom or back part of the heel

What causes pediatric heel pain?

Because there are a variety of possible causes for children’s heel pain, it is advisable that you consult a highly qualified foot doctor for a professional diagnosis. Some of the possible conditions for heel pain include:

  • Calcaneal Apophysitis—an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate
  • Tendo-Achilles Bursitis—an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) located between the Achilles tendon (heel cord) and the heel bone
  • Overuse Syndromes

Can pediatric heel pain be prevented?

Though it is impossible to fully eliminate all contributors to child heel pain, you can significantly reduce their risk by choosing supportive athletic footwear, limiting their use of cleated shoes, and helping them maintain a healthy weight.

If you or your child is suffering from heel pain, we highly recommend that you consult our board certified podiatrists, Andrew Shapiro, DPM and Michael Barkin, DPM. Our practice is conveniently located on West Merrick Road in Valley Stream to accommodate all of your foot care needs. Call (516) 825-3860 or book an appointment online today!