Ankle Tendonitis? Flat Feet? My 11 year old son has so much pain in his ankles he can't run

by Concerned Mom
(Pacific Palisades, CA)

My 11 year old son started to complain about ankle pain (in 1 ankle) in July. He was going to a camp beach program where he was running barefoot in the sand. At first, I just thought that he was complaining because it was hard.

But, he loved the program and completed the month and was still complaining and now about both ankles.

I thought that it could have to do with his very flat feet so I took him to the podiatrist in early August and was told that he had tendonitis.

For the month of August he really did not run much, but, would play around (as kids do) and everytime he ran just a little he would start limping and then hoping that is hurt so much.

Once, he started hoping, then the other ankle hurt and then he had trouble walking.

I took him to a pediatric orthopedic in late August and was told again that it was tendonitis.

We have been icing everyday and he is taking advil as well and now started to do little stretches. He can't run at PE and he doesn't want to play with his friends on the weekends because he says he can't run, scooter or even walk sometimes without it hurting.

What can I do to help him?

Thank you
Very Concerned Mom


Joshua Answers:

Hi CM.


I could go with tendonitis. Certainly a Tendonitis dynamic, meaning that there is now a Pain Causing Dynamic in place.

What catches my attention is that he's 11, ran a bunch for a few days, and is now hurting/hurt.

I'm more interested in his physical situation -before- he went running. Something is off that he goes and runs and gets injured to whatever degree he's injured.

So in my mind, the scenario looked like A. or B. or some combination of both.

A. He sits around a lot, plays a lot of video games, etc, such that going to camp and running was -such- an increase in exercise and strain
on his body that structurally he wasn't very tough and got some strain injury.

Rather like a 'Weekend Warrior' dynamic.

B. He has nutrient deficiency of some sort. Magnesium, various Vit B, Vitamin D.

Going with some assumptions about the American lifestyle, even you in southern CA, 1. Our diets lack appropriate nutrition and 2. When he does go outside, (is he?) he is covered with 'protective' clothes and/or sun screen.

Various nutrient deficiencies set a person up for weak structures, and/or more vulnerable to strain/damage, and/or not able to bounce back/heal as fast as one should, etc.

We can certainly deal with the direct situation of pain that isn't going away on a structural tissue level.

And that will go faster or slower depending on the 'fullness' of his body with nutrition.

Oh, and possibly he's short on protein too.

So there's that.

Now, some questions:

1. Where exactly does he hurt? All over the ankles, just spots, up the lower leg, in the foot, etc?

2. How bad, how long? Obviously enough to keep him from running.

3. How 'bad' are his flat feet. Maybe that should be, how flat are his flat feet?

4. Give me an idea of his build. Lean and lanky? Short and stocky?

5. Overall health? History of sickness or physical injury?

6. How exactly are you icing?

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Sep 13, 2009
PART 2 - answers to questions - Ankle Tendonitis? Flat Feet? My 11 year old son has so much pain in his ankles he can't run
by: Very Concerned Mom

Thanks for your quick reply!

To start off with, my son, does enjoy video games, etc, but he is on a all year round swim team and swims 3 days a week after school. He also is on a ski team (during the season) and ski's hard 3 weekends a month from November through April. But, he has never enjoyed running or sports that involve running.

He likes to ride his bike, scooter and play/run around with his friends. BUT, he also enjoys being lazy and that is why we have really pushed the swimming for him!

He had a big growth spurt this summer and is now 5' 2 1/2" he has a big build and weighs about 115. He is solid and a little pudge in his belly. He has thick big hands and big feet (size 10) very wide and VERY flat. He has olive skin and tans easily, however he wears sunscreen all summer long.

Now for his eating, we are a pretty health conscience family and I cook homemade meals almost every night. I believe in everything in moderation (but I hate fast food - he has probably had it 10 times in his life). But, he does have a sweet tooth.

He has had stomach problems for a while and last year I took him to an allergist and he is allergic to milk (he is not lactose intolerant) just allergic to the pure drinking form of milk.

He is also allergic to some trees, grass, lint, dust, dust mites, and he has exercise induced asthma. But, if you saw him he looks very strong and healthy.

He says that it hurts around his ankle bones. Usually once he starts running (or even running up the stairs) or is just clowning around - it starts to hurt and then really hurts and does not go away: either until the next day or until he ices it.

We have been icing it with a large flexible ice pack that we belt around he legs Every night before bed for about 20 minutes.

Looking forward to your advice. Thank you!!!

Sep 15, 2009
PART 3 - Ankle Tendonitis? Flat Feet? My 11 year old son has so much pain in his ankles he can't run
by: The Tendonitis Expert

Joshua Comments:

You?re welcome CM, I love to help. And I like an interesting/complex problem too. Working over the internet ads a sense of mystery to it, investigation-wise:)

A few thoughts:

1. The flat feet are only a problem if they are a problem.

It is likely that he is naturally designed that way, fully functional.

Having said that, he may or may be designed as a runner. My feet aren't flat, but I'm only good for a mile or so.

Only time and experimentation/activity will tell. My point is, just because the feet are flat doesn't give a direct correlation to whether running is for him or not.

Doesn't sound like it's a foot issue anyway, though it's possibly playing a role in the ankle. Foot issues tend to hurt the feet, not the just the ankles as you describe.

2. Rock on on the restricting fast food!

3. Doesn't sound like he falls into the sedentary/structurally weak category. Also doesn't sound like he falls

I'm going with the nutritional side of things, combined with the growth spurt aspect.

And those two certainly go hand in hand.

The body can sometimes grow faster than tendons and such can keep up with. This essentially causes tendon pain and joint pain, that kids almost always grow out of.

In addition, there's a lot of nutrition that goes into all that growth, than can use up a persons reserve and utilize more than one is eating, essentially.

So overall, I wouldn't worry about his ankle pain too much. Even though it really hurts right now, it's likely that it will work itself out now.

Which while probably true, doesn't help you at all in the moment.

So two things to help him get out of pain:

1. Stop icing with the ice pack. 20 minutes once a day just isn't effective in general, and in a Tendonitis situation of any kind, really not effective.

Get a 5 gallon bucket or something equivalent. Fill it with ice and/or frozen water bottles and water. Ice cold.

Then, during dinner and/or while watching tv, have him dip as many times as he can, for 10-20 seconds each.

Keep the dip going. If he can dip throughout the day for 3-7 days, I would be highly surprised if it didn't drop his pain levels significantly. And if it doesn't that's a good clue too.

2. Add in nutrition.

A. Magnesium as described on my Kerri's Magnesium Dosage page.

B. Bone Broth as the best Tendon Supplements

C. Switch to raw milk if you haven't already. If you have a store around that carries it. Processed, pasteurized milk, in my opinion, just isn't worth drinking. Plenty info avail on that if you are interested.

(Continued in PART 4)

Sep 15, 2009
PART 4 - Ankle Tendonitis? Flat Feet? My 11 year old son has so much pain in his ankles he can't run
by: The Tendonitis Expert

(Continued from PART 3)

Those are my big suggestions just at this moment.

I'm also going to have my Kerri from comment on here. There are a few clues in what you have written that have me ask her to comment.

She's a great person to talk to about/investigate the source of the digestion and allery issues.

Try out the ice dipping etc, and let me know what happens.

More questions, more answers.

Sep 15, 2009
Hmmm. Interesting...
by: Kerri Knox, RN-The Immune Health Queen!

Hi CM,

I'm really not sure what's going on with your son considering that it is ONLY going on in his ankles and no where else. I assume that your doctor at the very least did some X rays to make sure that there is nothing abnormal going on with the bones, bone growth or anything else of that sort.

And, while I'm not being alarmist and this condition is VERY rare and even MORE rare in children, you might want to just bring up the subject of a condition called acromegaly to your doctor. It was the condition that Andre the Giant had.

I may be WAY off base and your doctor may just laugh at you, but with the description of a BIG growth spurt and thick and big hands and feet and joint pain- it simply crossed my mind to tell you about it.

Normally, my first thought is a vitamin D deficiency, but that sounds unlikely.

However, if you have any influence with his doctor and/or you are very persuasive, you might want to try to get a vitamin D level just to cover all of your bases. You would be surprised to see how many supposedly 'healthy' people who get 'plenty of sun' have vitamin D deficiency. There was even a study of young people in Hawaii who got on average 12 hours of sunlight a week (without sunscreen) and many of them were deficient. In fact, my mother lives in Southern California as well (I grew up there) and one of her youngish neighbors had VERY severe vitamin D deficiency with bone pain and fatigue, etc. So, it can happen.

The other thing that interested me was your description of his multiple allergies and lactose intolerance- which makes me think of some sort of digestive tract issue. I know that sounds REALLY dumb and unrelated, but people who get allergies frequently and people who have food allergies often have a condition called 'leaky gut syndrome' which sensitizes them to allergens of all kinds.

And people who have one food allergy, very often have more than one- even if its not an OBVIOUS allergy- and even if you think that your doctor tested for other allergies- few tests do a good job at checking for these allergies because there are three different immune reactions that foods can cause and most doctors test for just ONE kind- not all three kinds.

(Continued on next comment)

Sep 15, 2009
by: Kerri Knox, RN-The Immune Health Queen!

So, here are a couple of suggestions.

Check out the website of Sage Medical labs for their (this site went down at some point, it may or may not be back online, point being, you may want to get an allergy test). They test for over 100 different foods in 3 different ways and are so sure that you'll feel better, they offer a guarantee that if they find food allergies and you avoid the offending foods and you don't feel better, they will refund your money! Try getting THAT guarantee from your doctor.

They DO take insurance and will quote you a price after the amount that your insurance pays- which they also GUARANTEE that you'll pay that price even if your insurance company later refuses to pay!

So give them a call and get a quote. If you go through your insurance, you'll need to get your doctor to test you for alllergies for insurance company reimbursement. If your insurance doesn't cover it and you still want to pay for the test out of pocket, let me know and as a health car practitioner, I can help you to get the test.

Whatever you try, I hope that he's feeling better soon.

Kerri Knox, RN
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Easy Immune

Feb 01, 2010
Seever's Disease? (Also spelled Sever's Disease)
by: Anonymous

Your son may have Seever's Disease, where the heel bone doesn't grow as fast as the surrounding tissue. My 12 yr old son was diagnosed with it this fall when he began playing team football. The only real treatment was to wear orthotics, which have helped. The condition will cure itself over time when his heel bones catch up to his overall growth.


Joshua Comments:

Thanks Anonymous!

Oct 09, 2010
My son has big feet (15) & very flat footed.
by: raptor

I took my son to a Dr when he was a toddler becuase he had flat feet and his ankles and knees would hurt him. Dr wanted to break his foot to fix it. And ofcourse I said &*^% no. I would have to rub his legs at night and give him some thing for pain so he could go back to sleep. I found that he has to wear shoes with a high ankle support. Like high tops. He is now 15 and he trys to buy regular tennies. But we have done that and had to take them back after one use. Because his ankles and knees hurt so bad. He can wear sandles for quick trips to store. But no for all day use.
Also, for new moms out there. My son had fever during his growing spurts and sever back aches too. He is now 15yrs old and is 6"1 and size 15 shoes.
Helpful hint: We have both started to use potassium pills as a pain releiver for leg pain. I am not saying it will work for all, but it works for us.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Raptor.

Well, let's see.

1. It's possible that your son is just naturally built in such a way that he's going to have some foot/knee pain issues.

That's kind of the probable dynamic.

2. Having said that, let's see what we can do:

A. Get you and your son's Vitamin D level up between 50-80.

B. Do a couple months of magnesium at tolerance level. See Magnesium Dosage

C. Increase his protein intake. Don't know what his diet consists of now. He's a big boy, I assume he eats a ton. Increase the protein and good fat, decrease the carbs.

D. Make Bone Broth a daily part of his diet. See Bone Broth as the best Tendon Supplements

Do that and check in in a month or so.

Ask questions along the way.

Oct 30, 2010
Flat Feet an Ankle Hurting
by: Anonymous

My 14 year old son also has flat feet and he complains that his left ankle hurts. Every time he runs, he complains that his left ankle hurts.

I disagree with the doctor that it does not have any relation with the feet. I believe it is totally related. Being flat footed puts a lot of extra pressure on your can see it when my son has no shoes on and is walking in the home.

I am waiting for an appointment to see an orthoedic surgeon and hopefully through ankle strengthening excercises, my son will be able to lead a relatively normal life.


Joshua Comments:

Seriously, the doctor doesn't see a connection between flat feet and ankle pain from running?

I agree, go see a different doctor!

Jul 08, 2012
Where exactly does this occur on the ankle?
by: Anonymous

My 11 year old son has begun limping and complains that his heel hurts. He is verrryyy sporty and enjoys football.

He runs fine and says it doesn't hurt when he runs but when walking he is showing a very pronounced limp. His feet have just grown to size 7 1/2 /8 and i wondered if this might be a cause?


Joshua Comments:

Growth spurts can certainly be the cause. His body may just be adjusting to the changes.

It's probably nothing to worry about that. Still, I'd make sure he was getting all the nutrition he could possibly need, and spend some time ice dipping (make him watch an hour of tv with a 5 gallon bucket of arctic cold ice water by the seat, and dip a few times every commercial set).

See: Magnesium for Tendonitis

See: How To Reduce Inflammation

Feb 07, 2013
11 year old son with ankle pain and a Severs disease diagnosis
by: Shannon

Hi, loved reading that I am not the only parent out there struggling for answers. I have a 11 year old son who has battled joint pain from the age of 6.

We have visited several different doctors only to be told growing pains. He has suffered mostly with the knees, waking up in pain having to rub and give pain reliever, but now we are having issues with the ankles. It really hurts to watch him walk. He looks like an old man, and running almost impossible.

He has had xrays all of which are normal. After seeing another orthopedic surgeon, he was diagnosed with severs disease and casted for 6 weeks. His heals are better but still having problems with the ankles and walking.

We are doing family exercise every night trying to stretch and work the ankles and calves for strength and flexibility. Because of the joint problems, we have had to quit sports as he is in too much pain to participate. With the restricted activity, he has put on some weight, not too bad 104 on his 4'11" frame. We are exercising him at night on the elliptical machine for 35 min to help get him moving again for weight and overall health.

I am frustrated and need answers. I have been searching the internet for answers as I do not believe this is a growing pain issue. He can not even walk normal with out being in pain. I have feared the worst. Just want him to be a normal kid and be able to walk, run and play without being in pain. Any advise would be appreciated.

BTW, he does have flat feet, we keep him in a supportive running shoe, and is using heal cups for the Severs disease.



Joshua Comments:

Maybe he has 'Severs disease', maybe not. He certainly has flat feet, it sounds like.

1. What's his nutrition intake look like?

2. What's his vitamin d level? If you don't know, find out asap.

3. Is he just genetically one of those people that are flat footed? Meaning, basically little to no arch?

4. What does it look like to watch him walk?

5. Describe the pain he experiences, in great detail.

6. Pain in any other joints above the knee?

Feb 07, 2013
11 year old son with flat feet and ankle pain
by: Shannon

He has genetically flat feet, as my husband and older son also have flat feet.

His diet is ok, could always be better. No soda, no chips, we cook with olive oil, has plenty of dairy products (milk and Greek yogurt), could always eat more vegetables. He eats a healthy breakfast, I pack his lunch everyday (no junk), dinners are almost always at home.

I have heard from a pediatric DR. about adding more vitamin D to his diet, and had added supplements, on and off, without a noticeable change.

I have not checked his vitamin D levels.

When he walks he leans forward and almost walks straight legged without bending his knees. Really not sure how to describe it, just does not look like a natural movement, but forced.

We did go visit the orthopedic Dr. today. He again checked his mobility. Watched him walk and agreed that it just did not look natural. We got a referral to PT for strength and flexibility routine to help him. He suggested he watch his walk in the mirror that he might just have to re-train himself to walk properly.

He did not show any more signs of heal pain (severs disease) and his range of motion in hips, knees and ankles was good. My son did not want to go today and said there was not anything wrong with him and was not in pain. I am not sure if that is true or he just did not want to go. We have been dealing with this for so long (started at 6 years old), not sure if he is just adapted to it.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Shannon.

If he is on the part of the bell curve where he's just genetically has flat feet, I wouldn't worry about him trying to 'walk normal'. He can't.

That's not quite true. He can walk normal for 'him', but not like 'the rest of us'.

His normal is more important to him than ours.

Granted it might look funny, but that's just kind of the way it is.

My point is, I'm more concerned that he function as well as his body is designed to function, than how he 'should' walk.

In my little elementary school there was a guy with super flat feet. And 6 foot tall in 8th grade. He was a big, dorky, funny walking dude. Like a duck running up and down the basketball court.

Just wanted to share that happy memory.

And, there's just no fixing that. That's just how it is, in all it's loveable glory.


Feb 08, 2013
11 year old son with flat feet and ankle pain
by: The Tendonitis Expert


Anyhoo, back to form and function instead of philosophy.

So. If he's not in pain now, great. There's no rule that he has to be in pain. Maybe he just isn't going to be able to play sports. Maybe if he does play sports he'll have to take efforts to stay pain free. He probably won't be able to join the NBA or pro football league, but the chances of that were slim anyway.

The whole 'severs disease' thing..I'm not a huge believer in that, in the sense of it being a disease. If there's actually a bone deformity, that's one thing. If it's a temporary issue as bones and joints grow and develop etc, I don't consider that a disease. And it makes sense that he's been growing with not the most ideal foot structure forces and torques and tensions in the world.

Growing pains are a real thing, as much as the medical community uses that as a way to brush off issues they don't know how to fix. And, there's nothing to fix with growing pains, as it's a changing process.

The best thing to do is give that boy as much nutrition as he can get. I assert that he has higher nutritional needs that kids with 'normal' feet.

IF he has pain, he has inflammation. And Inflammation Causes Vitamin B6 Deficiency.

He's almost certainly short on Magnesium, we mostly all are. Read the Magnesium For Tendonitis. If he's going to be sporty at all, he's totally going to need more magnesium for a variety of reasons.

Definitely get his Vit D checked, as a general rule. Yours to. I promise it's worth it to have levels up where they should be, for a variety of reasons.

There's nothing to fix in a flat foot dynamic. The game is to keep the body as happy and healthy as possible, countering the downsides of a not ideal foot/lower leg architecture that by design is going cause various negative factors.

Achilles tendonitis, ankle pain, etc may or may not be something to keep an eye out for in the future. He may be prone to that, maybe not. Gotta keep an eye out for it, then deal with it -effectively- to make it go away and stay away.

Counter the negative factors and the body stays stronger/happier/healthier.

Make sense?

Jun 18, 2014
Severe tendonitis and tibial tendon tear found by mri
by: Pino

I was diagnosed with severe tendonitis, posterial tibial tendon tear, ( also had this 6 yrear ago).

Dr. has me wearing a brace, and is giving me ultra sound treatmets for 5 min., and electrode treatment for 10 min., three times a week, to heal and I have been doing this for 3 months now, along with rubbing area, and making it hurt, as directed by foot dr.

I still have pain in ankle bone area which happens more at rest, or just to flex my ankle. He says the brace is for weight bearing, so dont wear to bed.

Which Leaves my foot to move around at night, which I wonder with doing this how can the torn ptt tear heal?

I was born flatfooted. I JUST NEED TO KNOW IF THIS IS THE RIGHT THINGS TO BE DOING...I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

I wear custom orthodics but since wearing brace do not wear it on that foot as dr. Orders. He tells me I need to be patient but, I think after this much time I should be having less pain, and starting to heal...


Joshua Comments:

Hi Pino.

So you have a tibial tendon tear? How big?

If it's big, it's never going to just 'heal' back very well.

If it's small, maybe, but you say you had a tear 6 years history shows whatever you did last time didn't work.

See the Torn Tendons page for relevance.

Are you doing the right things? That depends on the size of the tear.

But in general, probably not.

Have you learned How To Reduce Inflammation?

May 22, 2015
My Son is struggling to walk/run effectively
by: Lindsey


My son is 6 years old and is considered to be tall for his age. For a while now he's been walking with a very heavy, flat footed appearance. On closer inspection i'd say he's not flat footed in fact he can't put his foot down flat.

He's rolling on the outer edges a lot and tends to put his toes down first. His calves are very tight and his legs do not bend easily when he walks or runs. I have taken him to a private physio and to the physio dept at the hospital.

He can get a 90 degree angle when he flexes his foot but it causes a small degree of pain. He's been given stretching exercises to do which include a lunge and the heel drop you mention in your article.

Despite his best efforts and my nagging it does not appear to be solving his problem. The physio believes he's increased his range of movement marginally but for me it hasn't helped his ability to walk or run properly. He's starting to do a side gallop or a kind of straight leg swing when running.

When he tries to do a squat his knees buckle and his heels lift off the ground. I'm desperate to try and help him but also don't want to make too big an issue of it if its something that he has to live with. My husband carries a lot of tension in his calves and its likely that its a trait in his family, they are all very long limbed.

Surgery was mentioned but decided against at his age and in case its a habit thing as opposed to physical.

I only need to watch my son ricocheting off the walls to see its no habit. He's known for being clumsy. I can see that he often uses bumping into things as a way to stay upright, its like you say in your article, his calf muscles have no strength if they are always tight he can't use them to hold himself up for prolonged periods, he seems to prefer staggering around.

I apologize if i'm rambling. I've read all sorts online and yours was the first article that made sense to me. I would very much appreciate your advice on how to help my son. Many thanks for taking the time to read this, I look forward to hearing from you.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Lindsey.

Weird how nagging rarely helps anything....:)

1. Get his magnesium levels tested, by which I mean intracellular level not blood serum level. This is a test using a cheek swab not a blood draw.

2. Get has Vitamin D level tested as well (as soon as possible). I can explain why, but just go with it for now.

In short, chances are very high his Vit D levels are low (everybody's are). But if too low, that can affect nervous system function and development.

When you say 'ricocheting off the walls', that's a little concerning unless that's a figure of speech.

Get your level tested too (adequate levels of Vit D reduce the incidence of breast cancer by 83% and the category 'all forms of cancer' by 33%).

Vit D is cheap, no reason your whole family shouldn't have levels between 60-80ng/ml.

3. Some people just genetically have really short achilles muscles. Thus very limited flexibility, look funny walking.

Surgery may or may not be a good idea in that case (surgery is not a magical fix for anything and comes with it's own risks and dangers).

4. Some serious deep lengthening (probably painful) massage may help force open too short structures, but fair warning that could take a lot of work/time (though you can do the work yourself and not require a 'professional').

If it's a short structure genetics thing, then that massage can help but isn't likely to be a fix.

Might be worth spending a solid month doing that (while getting some specific nutrients into him) to see what happens.

Apr 02, 2016
My son's ankle pain relief
by: Anonymous

I see this topic began long ago but for those whose son's are currently going through this And have stumbled onto this site, thought I would comment.

My son too complained about heel / ankle pain around the age of 12. We tried changing shoes (and I don't want to even think of all the money I spent on different shoes), we tried stretches and icing and wraps and some sort of tape and a bunch of other things.

He plays baseball and his regular position is catcher which involves a lot of squatting which effects the heel.

His pediatrician said it was due to growing and i can't remember all the ins and outs of why exactly but it was something he would grow out of but would cause him pain in the meantime (especially since he was a catcher) and to ease his discomfort/pain he could use heel cups.

He recommended these specifically: Tuli's Heavy Duty Heel Cups, Regular (Under 175lbs) they are the light green/teal colored ones which are the heavy duty ones.

I bought them first at a small local physical therapy type supply store but then later found them on Amazon and have bought them there since. There are different sizes based on weight and they worked perfectly!

As soon as he put them in his shoes he said no more pain, which he had literally ever time he took a step before that. He had a pair in his every day shoes and a pair in his cleats (and still does). At $9 for a pair I highly highly highly recommend if your son is having heel pain at around this age you give them a try. It was literally instant relief for my son.

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