How to Deal with Your Teen's Heel Pain

Posted on: 22 June 2015

If your physically active teen is experiencing severe heel pain, it may well be caused by Sever's Disease.  Do not be alarmed as it is actually quite a common injury that occurs in adolescents. Although it can be painful, it is a temporary condition that leaves no long term effects if quickly diagnosed and treated correctly.

Learn more about Sever's Disease, how to recognize symptoms and the best ways to help your teenage recover.

Sever's Disease – the specifics

The disorder (also called calcaneal apophysitis) is a result of inflammation of the bone in the growth plate of the heel near the Achilles tendon. This area is where cartilage cells develop into bone cells as growth plates gradually expand and fuse.

Growing teens are susceptible. Those in early adolescence from approximately around the age of ten through to fifteen, and going through growth spurts, are predominately affected Older teens are unlikely to experience the condition because their bones have matured and completed the growing process.


During rapid growth spurts, the calcaneus or heel bone can often grow more rapidly than the surrounding muscles and tendons in the leg, particularly the adjacent Achilles tendon or heel cord. Consequently:

  • extra pressure is exerted on the heel plate and it loses flexibility as the tendon becomes over stretched and tight.
  • eventually the extra strain and repeated force on the Achilles tendon injures the growth plate and results in tenderness, swelling and pain.

Active adolescents involved in playing sports are most commonly affected.  Activities on hard surfaces are likely to increase the chances of developing the disorder. Those whose sports involve running and jumping, such as basketball, tennis and gymnastics, are especially vulnerable.

Signs to Look For

Of course the first and most obvious symptom is when your teen experiences pain and tenderness in the back of one or both heels.  The pain may also affect the sides or bottom of the heel and extend along to the arch of the foot.

They may also complain of stiff and uncomfortable feet upon waking and they will limp to avoid putting pressure on the sore heel

The discomfort is more pronounced following activities and tends to improve on resting.

Diagnosing Sever's disease

It is vital not to take any chances with your teen's developing feet and visit a health professional at a podiatric clinic like Tim Pain Podiatry as your first priority. Your podiatrist can promptly diagnose the condition and rule out any other likely causes of the pain.

In most cases the recommended treatment will be a management program of modified activity and rest.

  • A properly designed shoe insert will take the pressure away from the area
  • Cold packs applied for about ten minutes after activities

 More severe instances may need to be immobilised with a splint or cast

The most important thing is to give your teen the good news - it is a temporary condition. If they follow the podiatrist's self management program carefully, it will pass quickly.