Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Child Has Pain On the Outside of Their Foot

If you have a child who is active in sports or dance, you've probably come to realize that participating in
these activities doesn't come without injury. Your child may come home from practice or a game one day and complain of pain along the outside of their foot. What could this be?
Iselin disease is a painful irritation and inflammation of the growth plate at the base of the fifth metatarsal of the foot where the calf muscle connects. Iselin disease is most commonly seen in physically active children between the ages of 8 and 13, especially in those who play soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and dance.
Iselin disease is an overuse injury caused by repetitive pressure and/or tension on the growth center at the base of the fifth metatarsal. Activities like running and jumping create a lot of pressure on the forefoot. Children with tight calf muscles are at risk for this condition because they increase the pressure on the growth center.
Your child will say that the outer edge of their foot hurts when playing a sport, but doesn't hurt as much when they are resting. They may limp or walk on the inside of their foot. When looking at their foot, the growth center may appear enlarged, red, and painful to the touch.
Your podiatrist will examine your child's foot and make the diagnosis based on their symptoms. X-rays are usually not necessary to diagnose Iselin disease since the inflammation will not appear on the film, but they may be used to diagnose other foot pain.
Your child will need to avoid physical activities for a period of time to take the pressure off the growth center and allow the inflammation to reduce. Ice is helpful in relieving pain and inflammation. Use for up to 15 minutes every hour when sore, but do not use ice immediately before activity.
Part of your child's recovery will depend on them stretching their calf muscle. However, if rest, ice, and stretching do not improve your child's condition, your podiatrist may recommend an anti-inflammatory medication, as well as switching shoes and custom orthotics. In the most severe cases, some children require immobilization with a walking cast or boot.
Your child can return to their sports and physical activities when:
  • They have the full range of motion back in their ankle without pain.
  • There is no pain at rest.
  • They can walk, jog, and sprint without pain.
  • They can jump and hop on the affected foot without pain.
To prevent this condition from recurring, you should ensure that your child is properly warming up before activity. This can be ten minutes of light jogging, cycling, or calisthenics before practice; it helps the circulation in cold muscles. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds, and they should not bounce. They should also wear shoes that fit and are appropriate for the activity they are participating in. Worn out shoes should be replaced. Finally, do not let them play through the pain. Just because their favorite professional athlete can do that, doesn't mean they should.
Reference: Lurie Children's Hospital
If you are a parent of a child athlete and they have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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  1. These are the tips which every parent should teach their kids and we should take our kid to a qualified podiatrist if they are experiencing any kind of pain which does not go in a few days. Beside this, I completely agree with you that parents should make sure that their kids are wearing well fitted and comfortable shoes.

  2. Thanks for posting this helpful information! I never heard of Iselin disease before. My daughter does ballet and frequently complains of foot pain. My wife and I were wondering if she was developing early arthritis, as we heard it is possible for children to have it especially if they are athletic. After reading your blog I'm thinking that Iselin just might be the root of her foot pain problems.

    1. I kind of thought the same thing about my daughter. We'll be seeing a podiatric sports medicine specialist in Elmhurst, IL to make sure. I don't want to stop my girl from dancing, but I also don't want to permanently disable for the future.

  3. Thanks for the information. I've experienced foot pain since I was young, in different degrees depending on my activities at the time. I've tried several brands of shoe inserts to try and give myself arch support, and those really seem to help. Since I'm no longer playing a sport, the pain has really decreased.

    Jenn |