Heel spurs in children can be extremely painful. A heel spur is a extra growth of calcium on the underside of the heel bone. Heel pain can be the result of being overweight, poor biomechanics (walking, gait) or from wearing poorly designed shoes. Heel spurs are relatively rare in younger children, but can be more common in older children or in children who are extremely athletic. Pain from heel spurs can be disabling and result in limiting use of the foot.
Heel spurs are the result of excess calcium deposits on the underside of the heel bone. Often they are the result of strain on the muscles, tendons and ligaments that connect the foot to the lower leg, according to the California Podiatric Medical Association. Heel spurs are more common in individuals who are extremely athletic and participate in sports such as soccer, track or tennis, which require a great deal of running and jumping. Heel spurs can also be common to individuals who are obese or overweight.
Although pain is the primary method of determining whether heel spurs are present in children, an X-ray is usually also required. According to the Heel Spur Treatment Organization, heel spurs in young children are relatively rare. However, if a younger child participates in sports or is obese, then a doctor will be more likely to consider heel spurs as the source of the problem, if a child has excessive or unusual heel pain.
One of the diagnoses that a doctor may rule out is plantar fasciitis. This is a condition in which the plantar tendon that runs along the bottom of the foot has become inflamed and tender. According to the Better Health Channel, this condition can be extremely painful and can present with symptoms that are similar to heel spurs, including extreme pain when walking, particularly in the heel area.
According to the Heel Spur Treatment Guide, treatments for heel spurs include biomechanical interventions such as raising the heel with an insert, relieving some of the stress on the heel. Other treatment interventions include prescribing anti-inflammatory medications, surgery and shock-wave therapy. Orthopedic medical specialists often recommend the least invasive treatment method first, largely dependent on the intensity of the heel spur problem. Podiatrists may recommend that shoe inserts be used to help provide extra support in the child’s shoes and occupational therapy to help improve walking or gait to avoid further injury to the leg and foot. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the spurs.
The main line of prevention is to wear correctly fitting shoes that have shock-absorbent soles and support heels. Better Health Channel recommends examining shoes regularly and throwing out and replacing any shoes that have worn-out heels. Also wear shoe inserts that have been professionally fit to the feet. Finally, properly warm up and stretch ligaments, muscles and tendons before exercising or engaging in strenuous activities that require walking, running, jumping or standing.