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Children’s Foot Problems

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Children’s Foot Problems

Does your child have foot pain?


The child’s foot is not just a small-scale version of an adult foot. Children’s feet change shape and function with growth and development until growth ceases in their late teens. Many childhood problems are hereditary in nature. This means many foot problems tend to run in families. The growth period is an important time for examining, diagnosing, correcting and preventing developmental and structural problems of the foot and leg. This helps to ensure our kids start off life on the right foot.

As parents, we all want the best for our children. Nothing is more concerning than our children in pain. Foot pain is not normal in children. Pain is a warning sign that tissue damage has occurred or is about to occur. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong! So, if your child is suffering with foot pain please don’t ignore it, seek professional help.

Common Foot Problems in Children:

  • Heel Pain / Sever’s Condition
  • Growing pains
  • Unusual shaped feet or toes
  • Bunions
  • Limping
  • Painful feet or ankles
  • Flat feet
  • In-toeing or out-toeing
  • and more….

Sever’s Condition (Calcaneal apophysitis)

Sever’s Condition is the most common cause of heel pain in children. Sever’s Disease is a painful inflammatory response of the attachment of the Achilles Tendon at the growth plate of the heel. It typically affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. This is because the heel bone (calcaneus) is not fully developed until at least age 14 and bone growth at the growth plate can result in a weaker section of bone at the back of the heel.

What causes Sever’s Disease?

The active lifestyle of a child and the demands of sport can place excessive repetitive stress on the growth plate by the continued pulling of the Achilles Tendon. As the growth plate in children is made of cartilage (not yet turned to bone) repetitive pulling and strain can lead to inflammation and pain in the heel.

Tight calves, poor footwear and an increase in sport participation can make this condition worse.

Common symptoms associated with Sever’s Disease include:

  • gradual increase in heel pain over prolonged period
  • pain increases in the heel area when playing sport
  • pain is worse barefoot, and particularly bad in the morning.
  • sore to squeeze the region

How can we help Sever’s Condition?

Our practitioner’s will give guidance on immediate relief of pain with tips on icing and exercises which can help release the tightness around the heel area. We will also advise on suitable footwear for your child.

It is also important to assess the bio-mechanics of the foot to ensure the foot is functioning properly. If the mechanics of the foot are not working well stretching, strengthening and specialised manual therapy techniques (Foot Mobilisation Therapy) may be prescribed. If the foot is excessively flexible and unstable a shoe insert (orthotic) may be recommended. Additional tools like heel raises in the shoe to help lift and reduce the pulling effect of the Achilles Tendon may also be used.

The key to treatment success is to effectively and sufficiently reduce the strain applied to the heel bone growth plate by the Achilles Tendon. Once this is achieved the normal biological healing processes of the body can repair the damaged tissue and the inflammation (pain) can settle.

Growing Pains

Does your child have achy legs that keep them awake at night? He or she may have growing pains.

Growing pains are often described as cramping, achy muscle pains that children feel in their legs. The pain often occurs in the late afternoon or evenings and they can cause your child to wake up in the middle of the night.

Causes of Growing Pains

It is thought that growing pains are caused by growing too much or too quickly, however there is no firm evidence that growing pains are linked to growth spurts. Growing pains can also be the result of excessive physical activity with activities like running, jumping, and climbing. As the physically fatigued muscles recover, pain can be felt. This often occurs at night when resting. Over working of the muscles can also be exacerbated by poor foot and leg alignment and function.

Management can involve stretching and strengthening the appropriate muscles. It is also important to look at the total physical activity load that your child is undertaking. In addition, any mechanical and alignment problems need to be considered and addressed where relevant to reduce the load on the leg muscles.

Flat Feet

Having flat feet is a normal part of the development process in children. Most children will go through a stage of ‘flat-feet’ in the pre-school years. Many children with on-going flat feet have no symptoms. Having flat feet is a normal variation in foot function. The concern with flat feet is when the bio-mechanics of the foot and leg are causing symptoms, pain and dysfunction. If you are worried about your child’s flat feet or you have observed an awkward walking or running style, or child is complaining of pain or cramping, you should seek professional help to diagnose and treat the source of pain.

Preventing Problems in Adulthood

At the Foot & Leg Centre, we believe in trying to prevent foot problems wherever possible. In many cases, foot problems in adulthood can often be reduced or even prevented through early intervention in childhood. Conditions like bunions, curling toes, hammer toes flat feet are common foot problems we see with some of these being passed down from generation to generation via genetics. The good news is that many foot issues can be well managed with early intervention.


Better Feet > Better Body > Better Life. Click here to Book Online or call us today to make your appointment. Tel: (08) 8239 0800 (Kent Town) or (08) 8294 0100 (Glenelg)

Get In Touch With Us

  Level 2, Suite 4, 58 King William Street, Kent Town, South Australia 5067
  8239 0800

  5 Cowper Street, Glenelg, South Australia 5045
  8294 0100


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