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Back to School Foot Pain

After wearing flip-flops all summer, students head back to school with painful feet

As August approaches before you know it the ringing of school bells the moans and groans of students over tests, homework, relationships, and increasingly, their aching feet.

Around the Lowcountry flip-flops and sandals are the summer footwear of choice for many students. But while these sandals are inexpensive and stylish, they don't cushion or support the foot, leading to problems. After wearing flip-flops all summer, some students will head back to school this fall with foot pain and even injuries. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reminds parents and students that foot pain isn't normal and can be reduced or eliminated.

People often don't realize that even into your mid-teens, there's new bone growing in your heel. Flip-flops don't cushion the heel, so repetitive stress from walking can inflame that heel bone growth area and cause pain and tenderness. Calcaneal Apophysitis or Severs Disease is a common foot condition that we see in children. This condition is an inflammaiton of the growth plate of the heel. We have noticed an increasing trend in this form of heel pain especially in young athletes playing year round sports.

Heel pain and arch pain rank among the most common complaints among students who wear flip-flops. Other flip-flop feet problems students can take back to school include inflammation of the Achilles tendon, painful pinched nerves, sprained ankles, broken or sprained toes, cuts and scrapes, plantar warts, Athlete's foot, and callus build-up on the heels and toes.

Foot and ankle surgeons can usually reduce or eliminate students' foot pain with simple treatment methods including stretching exercises, ice massage, anti-inflammatory medications, and custom or over-the-counter shoe inserts.

Back to school season will always be painful for some students, but it doesn't need to involve foot pain. For more information on foot and ankle health conditions please refer to our website at


If your child has been experiencing heel pain it may be a condition called Calcaneal Apophsitis or Sever''s Disease. We are seeing more of this condition over the past several years especially children that are involved with travel teams for sports. Calcaneal apophysitis is a painful inflammation of the growth plate of the heel. Typically it affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 because the heel bone is not fully developed. When there is repetitive stress on the growth plate inflammation can develop.

Calcaneal Apophisitis is the most common cause of heel pain in children. The cause of this condition is overuse and stress on the heel bone. Children who are involved in soccer, track, and basketball are especially prone to this injury. Tight achilles tendon, improper shoe gear, flatfeet and high arched feet are other potential causes.

Symptoms are typically pain in the bottom or back of the heel, walking on toes, difficulty running, and pain on the sides of the heel. Diagnosis is made through clinical exam and x-rays by your foot and ankle specialist.

Treatment involves rest, ice, NSAIDS, heel cushions, stretching, over the counter or custom orthotics, and education of the underlying cause of the condition. Sometimes for chronic pain immobilization with a cast or walking boot is needed.

Luckily if treated early enough the symptoms resolve fairly quickly. If your child is experiencing any heel pain at all please contact our office for an evaluation.