Heel Pain in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Heel pain can be from an injury or from everyday overuse, such as running or walking a lot. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. In this condition, the bottom of the foot from the front of the heel to the base of the toes is sore and hard to walk on.

Your child's heel can get better with rest, anti-inflammatory pain medicine, and stretching exercises.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child rest his or her feet often. Reduce your child's activity to a level that lets your child avoid pain. Remind your child to not run or walk on hard surfaces.
  • Give your child anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce heel pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's heel for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • If ice isn't helping after 2 or 3 days, try heat, such as a warm cloth or hot water bottle. Keep a cloth between the hot water bottle and your child's skin.
  • If the doctor says it is okay, teach your child these calf stretches. Tight calf muscles can cause heel pain or make it worse.
    • Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Put the leg you want to stretch about a step behind the other leg. Keeping the back heel on the floor, bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg.
    • Stand about 30 centimetres from a wall. Place the palms of both hands against the wall at chest level and lean forward against the wall. Put the leg you want to stretch about a step behind the other leg. Keep the back heel on the floor and bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 2 to 4 times a session. Have your child do 3 or 4 sessions a day.
    • Sit down on the floor or a mat with your feet stretched in front of you. Roll up a towel lengthwise, and loop it over the ball of your foot. Holding the towel at both ends, gently pull the towel toward you to stretch the foot. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 2 to 4 times a session. Have your child do 3 or 4 sessions a day.
  • Have your child wear a night splint if the doctor suggests it. A night splint holds the foot with the toes pointed up. This position gives the bottom of the foot a constant, gentle stretch.
  • Have your child wear shoes with good arch support. Athletic shoes or shoes with a well-cushioned sole are good choices.
  • Try a heel lift, heel cup, or shoe insert (orthotic) to help cushion your child's heel. You can buy these at many shoe stores.
  • Help your child stay at a healthy weight. This puts less strain on the feet.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has heel pain with fever, redness, or warmth in the heel.
  • Your child has numbness or tingling in the heel.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child cannot put weight on the sore foot.
  • Your child's heel pain lasts more than 2 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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