With children becoming more involved in sports at a younger age, the number of young athletes with overuse symptoms is increasing.
One of the most common overuse syndromes is called sever's disease. It is a painful condition that affects an athlete's heel.
"I think boys are a tad more common. Certainly any high impact sports a lot of times, whether it's baseball, football, soccer," said Dr. Mark Ginsburg, a podiatrist.
It affects children, typically ages 12 or 13, when the growth plates in the heels are coming together. The pounding force on the heels causes inflammation between the plates.
"Typically it is right where the achilles tendon attaches to the bone. That growth center, which is known as the calcaneal apophysis, can become inflamed," Ginsburg said.
Symptoms are not easy to spot. There is no swelling and no warmth. Often the patient experiences severe pain when both sides of the heels are compressed. The condition can be chronic. In mild cases, rest, anti-inflammatories and cushioned soles in the athletes shoes can be used as treatment.
"I'd use ice followed by heat. We might have to put some sort of orthotic or heel cup in their shoe," Ginsburg said.
It can take as little as a few weeks, or as long as a year for the growth plates to close. Sever's disease disappears once the growth plate close.
Young athletes will often push through the pain to stay in the game, but Ginsburg said that could cause long term problems.
"When they continue to participate, despite the pain, they start limping and altering their gate and they hurt other parts of their body. They can strain their hip, they can strain their knee," Ginsburg said.
If you think your child is at risk for sever's disease, you may want to see a podiatrist.