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“Growing Pains”

Friday, December 10th, 2010 Kenneth Donovan

The term “growing pains” is thrown around a lot. The term came about to describe nondescript pain in the lower extremities, throughout a child’s development. With regards to podiatry, the most common area for “growing pains” is the bottom of the heel. This pain is most commonly seen between ages 10-14.

All bones need to grow before we reach adulthood. The area where your bones get longer and bigger is known as the growth plate. Once you finished growing the growth plate becomes fused and disappears. The area behind the growth plate in the heel is known as the apophysis.


Inflammation of this part of the heel, is termed “calcaneal apophysitis or sever’s disease.” It is generally an overuse type injury that causes pain near the back of the heel during and after physical activity. Pain is usually relieved with rest.

We see this type of injury most commonly in athletes that wear cleats during sports, since there is lest support in that type of shoegear. It’s also pretty common in the winter when the ground hardens, and the repetitive pounding of the heel causes this type of pain.

While this condition is self-limiting, there are numerous ways to help speed up the healing process and get back on the field. Usually we suggest a combination of ice therapy, stretching, heel lifts, and orthotics to help alleviate the pain associated with this condition.