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Child having severe pain in feet. Given ibuprofen. What is the underlying cause?

Dec 2012
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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2012
Answered : 1694 Questions
Hi Doctor, my son who is 13 has had pain in both feet. its pain in the upper front area of the feet right below the toes. He was up all night with severe pain. I don't know what to do for him. I game him Ibuprifin. He is not doing any sports right now and his feet have hurt the last week like this. I dont know why this is happening? He drinks alot of gatorade, would this be a problem for his feet? I need help now! Thank-you, XXXXXXX
Posted Thu, 28 Feb 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 2 hours later

Thank you for posting on XXXXXXX
First of all I will like to start by saying that I do not think gatorade drink is responsible for his pains.
From your description, he is probably having plantar fasciitis (even though very rare in 13 year old). Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. It occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused. This can be painful and make walking more difficult.
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you have:
- Foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches)
- Long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces
- Sudden weight gain or obesity
- Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
- Shoes with poor arch support or soft soles

To manage the condition you will need to continue the ibuprofen already started (if maximum dosage not yet reached, you should attend it), your son should do heel and feet stretching exercises, wear splints at night, apply ice on affected areas (do this twice or trice daily for 10-15 mins), wear shoes with good support and cushion, resting as much as possible for at least a week etc.
If these measures do not work, you will need to consult an orthopedic surgeon for other possible management options.
X-ray and/or CT scan could be done to determine if specific lesion.
Antineuralgic medicines maybe include in your treatement.
His past medical history is noncontributing to his present condition.

Hope this helps and wish your son a better health
Dr Nsah
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Child having severe pain in feet. Given ibuprofen. What is the underlying cause? 20 minutes later
Dr, this has nothing to do with plantar facilitis. I said the pain is right below the toes on the front side of his feet. The front side....toes and right below the toes on the front side. It has nothing to do with the heal or arch. I thought I made that clear. His pain is on the front and very, very painful. You have not answered my question as I know it is not anything to do with heal or arch, etc. Please advise again on this condition or I would like to have my money back. Thank-you, XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 9 minutes later
Sorry for the misunderstanding. What your son is probably manifesting right is a form of peripheral neuropathy (nerve disorder) but the cause has to be investigated as we might be dealing with an autoimmune disorder. The specific type of neuropathy will be hard to tell. But given his age and the fact that there is no direct relationship between his past medical history, daily activities ( no notion of trauma) and the pain, then it might be an idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. Guillaine-barre syndrome needs to be excluded as it often starts from the toes and gradually moves to the proximal extremities (pins, needles, numbness, pain etc are the classic symptoms).
If pain is neurogenic then ibuprofen would not help but rather antineuralgic medication like carbamazepine, nucleo CMP forte etc will be better indicated. An emergency consultation with a neurologist is essential as it might be the beginning of a more serious condition like guillaine-barre syndrome.
If the pains do not touch any part of his soles then it is not plantar fasciitis as you rightly said.

Hope this helps
Dr Nsah
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Child having severe pain in feet. Given ibuprofen. What is the underlying cause? 2 hours later
Thank-you Doctor very much. Could you just explain one more thing to me please. What is Guillaine-barre snydrome? Could you tell me what this is....if he has had pain in his feet for a week now, on and off, should I get him into our doctor soon. Thank-you very much. XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 8 minutes later
You are welcome.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious disorder that occurs when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness, pains and other symptoms. May start from the feet and legs move upward. But as I said this is just a differential as your son is not presenting with typical symptoms.
You can get an appointment any time soon with your doctor.

I was happy to help you.

Dr Nsah
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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