26 answers

9 Year Old Son Has Trouble with His Heels

My nine year-old son has started complaining about his heels hurting. He says that it feels like he has pebbles in his shoes. He has tried to wear different shoes and it doesn't make a difference. Someone suggested growing pains. Has anyone else had this problem and what did you do about it? Is he too young for bone spurs?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi, I had a friend with this problem and she had to massage her son's feet every morning and some nights to improve circulation and just pay attention to how much he jumps and from how high. And she found specially made shoes for kids with this problem and it was not expensive.

It sounds like plantar facitis (sp?) It can be very painful. I have had it myself. I was able to be diagnosed by my family doctor and then he recommended an orthopedist.
Good luck!

My husband works part-time at Allison's Shoe store in Glen Carbon, IL. The owner does orthotic's in his lab, and he could tell you what is wrong and what could alleviate the problem. He helps lots of people. The store is located next door to Ponderosa in Glen Carbon and the phone number is
###-###-####. I hope that helps.

More Answers

Hi L.,

My (then 11 year old) daughter was having similar problems with her heels last spring when they were doing a lot of running during gym class. It was a little while before I decided that she needed to see the doctor, but I'm glad that we did.

Her pediatrician said it was Sever's disease. He said to have her rest, no running for a while, and had us get some heel supports to rest her achilles tendon. I think he also said to have her take a pain reliever for the pain. These things helped and within a few months there were no more complaints of pain, and none since then either.

From what I remember it is not really a "disease" it is just something that happens sometimes when kids are growing and then it gets aggravated by a new or more strenuous activity.

Here is a link to wikipedia that tells a little more about it and seems similar to what her doctor described to us.


I hope your son feels better soon!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
First with any advice..."disclaimer" consult you physican :)
I would try a foot roller for your son... You can usually buy them at Bed, bath and beyond, bath and body works...or even garage sales.
First I would have him soak both feet is warm epsom salt water and then roll the feet especially the heel that is bother some. I would do this every evening till it feels better, then maybe once a week...Growing pains are real.
A. D

Unfortunately he's not to young for bone spurs. I have them and they're painful. I was told by several doctors to get a shoe with a really good arch and support. Since it is usually caused by your foot turning to the side while you're walking. Most people don't even know they're doing it. As soon as the arch and support start to degrade, you need to replace them. It's worked for me. And it's alot cheaper than the inserts that are around $300. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Hi, I had a friend with this problem and she had to massage her son's feet every morning and some nights to improve circulation and just pay attention to how much he jumps and from how high. And she found specially made shoes for kids with this problem and it was not expensive.

I had a friend whose daughter constantly complained of aching heels, turned out a she needed arch supports. Check with your pediatrician and see if he thinks you should see a podiatrist.

I also was going to say that this may be related to his arches. I have issues with my arches and this pebble feeling is what it feels like when I don't have the proper support in my shoes. I have to add support even to shoes that supposedly have the arch support already there. I really don't think this would be growing pains necessarily, though whatever problem he is having could definately be brought on by his body growing. I don't know where exactly you are located, but I have a wonderful podiatrist who is located in Lees Summit. Her name is Dr. Laurel Bondi and her husband is a podiatrist as well but I've never seen him. I would definately see someone though because it has to be so painful for your son to feel like this.

Check the arch supports in his shoes. My best friend's daughter had the exact same problem and it had a lot to do with her arches. I have the same trouble in my left foot where my arch is falling from walking and dancing barefoot for so many years. If his shoes don't have good arch supports, buy some from the store and place them in his shoes. Or you may have to get him the more expensive shoes to wear that already have good arch supports in them. That is what my friend had to do. Good luck.

Could he possibly have bone spurs? That would explain the sensation of pebbles in his shoe.

Good luck,

No one is too young for bone spurs. I've had them and they are closely related to plantar fascitis. Often a person will have both. There is a muscle that extends from the middle of the foot in the tender part to the back of the heel. If you feel just below the heel but not to the middle and press he will come unglued if it hurts there. If so, he will need to do some exercises on a regular basis to stretch out his achilles tendon and there are others that can help. The biggest thing that helped me was my MBT shoes. But those babies are 250 dollars. I know that a few companies have made knock offs now so you should be able to find some much cheaper.

One exercise I do is to put my feet up while watching tv and rotate my ankles in both directions over and over. And then I squeeze my feet crunching them and holding and doing that over and over. It was explained to me that if you have an actual bone spur in the heel, it will be worse if the supporting muscles of the foot are week. Because plantar fascitis leads to bone spurs, it often has to be dealt with through these exercises. There are also stretchers that can be bought at night to keep that muscle in the right position while sleeping. I never bought one of those.


I am no doctor and so I would start with a visit to his pediatrician then I would invest in cowboy boots. I had Planters Fascia and the boots worked great to relieve the pressure. It went away and I can wear "normal" shoes now.

When my son was about 9/10 he complained about his heels and arches hurting. He is a very active boy and has been playing sports of somekind year round since he was 4. It was during soccer season when the pain started. I took him to the dr and they did not find anything wrong. They put him in a soft cast and gave him some special exercises, it didnt help. They recommended a pediatric sports med dr. It took several months, 2 hard casts, 2 soft casts, mri's, physical therapy and special shoe inserts finally they said that it was severs disease. It is very common and after about a year off of sports he was pretty much back to his old self again. He is 13 now and when his heels bother him he does some of the exercises he learned. He is back to year round sports. Hope this info helped. You might want to google severs disease it will give you more info.

Well I'm an older mom but my son had this when he was about that age and I was told he had a growth plate that was causing the pain. I remember the pain was quite intense at times. It was many years ago and I can't remember what they did for it. But I would suggest a good Podiatrist to at least take an x-ray and see what they find.

Instead of taking him in to see the DR. I'd take him in to see a PODIATRIST foot doctor,he may have bone spurs or a bone issue in his feet they will be able to help correct the issue

I have a couple of questions for you. Does your son play a lot of sports that include running and jumping? Is he currently experiencing a growth spurt? This could be Calcaneal Apophysitis. The heel bone is the calcaneus and the growth plate in the bone may be inflamed, which causes the pain. It is the most common cause of heel pain in children and is caused by overuse injuries. It can also be caused by poor heel padding or poor arch supports. The treatment is usually rest and/or orthotics (heel supports)along with ibuprofen until the inflammation settles down. Range of motion exercises before sport/activities usually helps. My daughter and son both have this and when a friend told me her son's symptoms, I told her about this diagnosis and when she took her child to the physician, he was diagnosed with the same. I strongly enourage you to see you pediatrician to evaluate his heels to assure proper diagnosis of his problem.

I just dealt with this same thing over the winter months with my 8yr old son. It is called Sever's Disease you can look up on internet. It is like achilles tendonitis (inflammation of achilles tendon). Your MD should be able to help. He needs some heel cups to wear in his shoes to help cushion, exercises, and possible rest. My son's became pretty bad, and pediatrician put him on crutches and rest for 3 wks. However, this did not relieve significantly enough and we saw sports medicine physician who then put in walking boots for couple weeks. Worst senerio was a cast for couple weeks, which we did too. He then saw physical therapist, and we try to continue with stretching and strengthening exercises. They may have bouts of this heel pain until they outgrow it at 15-16 yrs old. My son was rare in severity, so don't let this scare you. It seems like this is pretty common with boys in this age group. Usually only heel cups and exercises need to be done. I have heard so many who experience this. It has to do with overuse and not proper exercise ahead of time and with growth spurts where bone is growing faster than tendons. THere is growth plate on back of heel which achilles tendon is putting pressure on adding to pain. Hope this helps, but I would definitely see his pediatrician and start getting some appropriate exercises to work on.


I have heard of this before; my nephew complained of this when he was about your sons age and a friend of mine has a son who had the same problem a couple of years ago - he was about 9 years old too. They both purchased heel cups for their shoes, I think you can get them at any sporting good store. This is funny because I just asked my friend about this earlier today, she said he hasn't had any problems recently...it must be something to do with a growth spurt. Good luck!

This sounds like it might be Severs Apophysitis which is an injury to the area where the achilles tendon inserts on the heel bone. Is he a soccer player? This is common in soccer players. heel cups in his shoes may make a big difference...that and rest and ice. Hope that helps a bit!

This may sound incredibly off-the-wall but have him checked for mono. Mono can sometimes manifest itself as unusual aches or pains, even if there are no other symptoms.

My husband works part-time at Allison's Shoe store in Glen Carbon, IL. The owner does orthotic's in his lab, and he could tell you what is wrong and what could alleviate the problem. He helps lots of people. The store is located next door to Ponderosa in Glen Carbon and the phone number is
###-###-####. I hope that helps.

It sounds like plantar facitis (sp?) It can be very painful. I have had it myself. I was able to be diagnosed by my family doctor and then he recommended an orthopedist.
Good luck!

Don't take any chances. If I were you I would take him to the doctor and find out what's going on. I'm 57 and the mother of one son and the grandmother of 2 girls and 1 boy. I've never heard of growing pains in a childs heels. Please get him checked by a doctor, and do it soon. Better to be safe than sorry.
J. J.

Hi L.,

I'm not a doctor or anything but I recently started having trouble with my right heel, probably from running, and was trying to think of what I could do to help it. I remembered that a chiropractor I saw once showed me an exercise where you stand on a raised surface, like a two by four, and rock up and down on your toes. It strengthens the whole foot and stretches the calf. I started doing this on Saturday and my heel is almost completely better. I just do it a few times a day. I'm not sure this will help your son but maybe it's worth a shot.

Good luck and take care,

Hi L.
My daughter who is almost 10 started complaining about a year ago about heal pain. Her doctor referred her to an orthopedic who did x-rays and found that one of the muscles that runs across the bottom of her foot was too tight and was actually causing problems with her growth plates and she is extremely flat footed. SHe had to go to PT and has to wear inserts in her shoes and now has yearly checkups with the ortho. SHe is doing a lot better. The ortho said this is unusual to see at such a young age but if a child is pretty active in sports and such then it is not uncommon. HEr ortho had never seen anyone so young. I would suggest getting him to the Dr. if its the same thing, it can cause some real problems. Sorry I can't remember the medical term used.
Good luck!

if you haven't gone to the DR yet about his heels, then make the appt to a foot Dr. GHicks

Has he had any surgeries lately? I was told that if there was any Anesthesia it effects the limbs for a while.

The strong facia across the arch of the foot attaches to the heel bone. From the other end of that bone, the achilles tendon attaches to it. That tendon attaches to the two strongest muscles in the entire body, and a few other large muscles of the lower leg attach to some aspect of the heel bone as well. Muscles don't really grow. They stretch. The growth plates are in the bones, such as the long bone of the lower leg, which most people call the shin. So, as that bone grows, it stretches the muscle. This can encourage a tug-of-war between those strong muscles in the lower leg and the facia of the arch of the foot. Tendons have very sensitive nerve receptors. So, if the muscle is too tight, you will often feel it in the tendon before you feel it in the muscle.

If the muscles are not stretching easily, they cramp and pull at the tendons. If any of the tendons are over stressed, they can hurt quite a bit. What people generally refer to as "heel spurs" or "bone spurs" is the idea that some fibers of the tendon might feel as though they lost attachment to the bone and are spurring back, like the spur at the back of a turkey's ankle. Stretching the muscles at the back of the leg and stretching the facia in the arch of the foot (rest your arch on the edge of a stair and let it support some body weight) often help the situation.

Usually, it is an issue of diet or the ability to metabolize food. I would find a nutritionist and check the child's pH balance. He may just need to take some good mineral supplements to solve the entire problem. If he is no a medication that is challenging liver function, he may need something like glucosamine sulphate or condroitin to help his body make strong connective tissue.

I would also see a good D.O. or chiropractor as well. Sometimes the pain a child feels in the knee or foot can indicate the begining of some hip or back misallignment which can be adjusted as he grows to prevent surgery and/or more serious problems later in life.

By the way, make sure it isn't just the shoes. Take them with you to the D.O. or chiropractor. Does he feel the same pain no matter which shoes he wears?

Anyway, I always recommend that moms get the book "Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child". It is the best reference book for a child's health issues I've seen.

Although surgeries are sometimes the best answer, in this case I would not accept that idea easily when there are likely much simpler and more holistic solutions out there. I doubt if a Dr. would suggest it for heel pain, but that is what happened to my brother about that age. My parents just didn't know that MDs just don't ALWAYS have the best answers. It led to many complications thruought his life. So, get good information. Information is much easier to get today. Make informed decisions. You'll be oh-so-glad you did!

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