From foot deformities to typical sports injuries, children can have just as much trouble with their feet as adults, and according to Dr. Aaron Solomon at Advanced Foot Care, early treatment is the key to relief.
"The most common pediatric ailment we deal with on a daily basis is heel pain," Solomon shared, noting the technical term is calcaneal apophysitis. "It's a growth bone in the back of the heel that gets inflamed."
Also called Sever's disease by pediatricians, calcaneal apophysitis is an ailment that can cause children who play sports such as soccer, baseball or basketball to end up hobbling over to mom and dad after a game or practice with terrible foot pain.
"They rest and their foot gets better, so then they go in to play again, but the pain returns," Solomon said, adding that patients who report symptoms such as a recurrence of pain and detecting a tenderness in the heel are diagnosed with calcaneal apophysitis. "We treat it first by, most importantly, resting and letting the inflammation resolve. We don't give an antinflammatory because we want to avoid medication if we can help it, and rest is the best way to allow any damage to resolve itself."
In severe circumstances, Solomon said that a cast or walking boot may be used to give adequate rest to the foot.
Other growth bones can also be stressed in pediatric patients, including one located outside the foot, just below the knee that when inflamed -- similar to the heel in the case of calcaneal apophysitis patients -- causes what's known as Osgood-Schlatter disease.
"It's also very common and we deal with it a lot," Solomon said. "Another way to treat it is, once the inflammation is calm, we use custom orthotics and make inserts to try to minimize the stress. We don't want patients getting back into their pain again, and if we can reduce it by putting in an orthotic, there's less chance of recurrence."
Once pediatric patients are completely grown, usually sometime in the early teen years when the plates are completely fused, he said they typically stop experiencing these problems.
"Sometimes we have patients come in, and they've been told it's 'growing pains,'" Solomon said. "There is no such thing as growing pains. It doesn't hurt to get taller; what they are feeling is that excessive stress on the growth plates, or they could have some type deformity -- such as a high arch -- that causes pain."
In all cases in which custom orthotics are used, stress on the feet needs to be avoided, and patients and parents alike will be relieved to know that the orthotics can be worn with everyday sneakers or tennis shoes.
"Sometimes we see breaks where those growth bones in children who are athletic, and we treat those with a cast," Solomon said, again noting that this does not happen very often."The most important thing with any pediatric foot condition is to start any necessary treatment at a young age to help prevent arthritis or other ailments down the road."
"It doesn't hurt to get taller; what they are feeling is that excessive stress on the growth plates, or they could have some type deformity such as a high arch that causes pain," said Advanced Foot Care's Dr. Aaron Solomon, explaining the real causes of what people commonly misdiagnose as "growing pains."
Advanced Foot Care has offices in Tennessee at 4308 Brainerd Road and 7550 East Brainerd Road in Chattanooga; 5617 Highway 153, Suite 102, in Hixson; and 3742 Tennessee Ave. in St. Elmo. Georgia locations are at 2368 Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe and 1716 Cleveland Highway, Suite 104, in Dalton. To learn more about services offered or schedule an appointment, visit advancedfootcarecenters.com.