Sunday, December 04, 2011

Heel pain and how best to prevent it in growing children

According to experts young athletes should never "play through the pain" in their feet. Heel pain ois ver common and if left untreated, heel can lead to difficulty in walking which may necessitate complicated therapy to recover. Children undergoing growth spurts are particularly susceptible to heel pain from age 8 until around age 13 for girls and age 15 for boys. The source of the heel pain is usually damage to a strip of soft tissue (the growth plate) where new bone is forming to accommodate adolescents' lengthening feet. Overuse, repeat pounding, or excessive force on the Achilles tendon can cause inflammation and pain. For many teenagers, the growth plate has completely closed, and heel pain is caused by other conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, bursitis, bone bruises or fractures. Often first aid measures such as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) resolves symptoms. However if symptoms persist a visit to the physician is recommended. Anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or other treatments tailored to requirement are usually successful. Surgey is usually the last resort.

Recogniting the warning signs in children can help prevent or reduce the severity of heel pain. Look out for limping, complaining, walking on toes, and pain the morning after a game. When in doubtr consult your physician.

Always have good fitting supportive shoes made for specific sports. Discard old or uncomfortable footwear especially when they have caused pain. Raise the heels slightly with heel inserts in footwear with flat-footed cleats and where possible renew worn cleats. Insist they do warm-up and cool-down exercises as gentle stretching can help prevent heel pain.

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