Growing children commonly suffer from different types of foot injuries. Injuries to growth plates in the foot are particularly common among active children who participate in organized sports and activities.
Untreated injuries to the growth plates in the foot have the potential to cause long-term damage to a child who has yet to reach skeletal maturity (the age at which the cartilage in foot growth plates fuse with surrounding bones). This usually occurs around age 14 to 15 for girls and 16 to 17 for boys, and any foot injury before these ages could also mean an injury to growth plates in the foot.
Repetitive Activities, Overuse and Foot Growth Plate Injuries
For active children between the ages of 9 and 13, chronic heel pain is more than likely related to overuse and inflammation around the growth plate in the heel bone (calcaneus). In sports that require long hours of similar movements, such as gymnastics, soccer and basketball, this type of activity-related pain specifically localized near the foot growth plate is also called Sever’s disease.
Traumatic injury can also occur to the growth plate in the foot . This pattern of injury is different in children compared to adults because the child’s growth plate is weaker than the surrounding soft tissues. Growth plate injury may require special attention to prevent long-term growth complications.
Symptoms of an Injured Foot Growth Plate
A growth plate injury in the foot, whether associated with an acute injury or Sever’s disease, can present in a number of ways that includes:
- Acute severe pain
- Swelling and bruising
- Difficulty bearing weight on the foot/heel
- Stiffness in the foot/heel for extended periods of time
Treatment Options for Foot Growth Plate Injuries
Depending on severity, growth plate fractures in the foot can be treated in a number of ways. For less serious injuries, your child’s physician may recommend:
- Extended periods of rest to prevent overuse
- Elevation and ice to prevent swelling and further injury
- Strengthening exercises
For more severe or prolonged injuries to the growth plate in the foot, a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist may need to be consulted and recommend:
- A cast or walking boot for comfort to protect the foot growth plate
- Surgery to correct a severe growth plate fracture in the foot
If you are at all concerned about an injury to your child’s foot growth plate, we encourage you to contact any of our team members for more questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also read more general information on growth plate injuries .