Sever's disease is a pain that occurs in the back of the heel of physically active children at around the time of puberty. Sever's disease occurs due to an inflammation of the growth plate due to excessive pull of the achilles tendon on this growth plate. During puberty the bones quite often grow faster than the muscles and tendons causing the tendons to become tight, this tightness then results in excessive pull on the back of the heel resulting in this painful condition.
Heel pain is very common in children due to the fact they are cnstantly growing. In most children, the heel bone (the calcaneus) is not fully developed until the age of 14 or older. Until then, new bone is forming at the growth plate of the foot (the apophysis, located at the back of the heel), an area which is softer than others due to its role in accommodating the growth. Repetitive stress on the growth plate due to walking, running and sports causes inflammation in the heel area. Because the heel's growth plate is sensitive, repeated running and pounding on hard surfaces can result in pediatric heel pain. Children and adolescents who take part in a lot of sport are especially vulnerable. Over-pronation (fallen arches and rolling inwards of the feet) will increase the impact on the growth plate and is therefore a significant cause and a major contributing factor to heel pain in children.
A few signs and symptoms point to Sever?s disease, which may affect one or both heels. These include Pain at the heel or around the Achilles tendon, Heel pain during physical exercise, especially activities that require running or jumping, Worsening of pain after exercise, A tender swelling or bulge on the heel that is sore to touch, Calf muscle stiffness first thing in the morning, Limping, A tendency to tiptoe.
A doctor or other health professional such as a physiotherapist can diagnose Sever?s disease by asking the young person to describe their symptoms and by conducting a physical examination. In some instances, an x-ray may be necessary to rule out other causes of heel pain, such as heel fractures. Sever?s disease does not show on an x-ray because the damage is in the cartilage.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment of Severs disease usually involves a combination of an accurate analysis of your child?s gait, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints is a crucial first step. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises often make up part of the treatment. Anti-inflammatory measures such as ice baths after exercise can be helpful in the short term. Footwear review, assessment and advice is important. Orthotic devices are often needed to firstly control any abnormal traction or tension on the heel growth plate and, secondly, too unload the ground reaction forces on the heel bone. Podiatry Care has podiatrists with specific paediatric training enabling them to utilise treatment options to relieve heel pain in children very quickly. If your child is struggling to play sport, see a Podiatry Care podiatrist near you. In severe cases modification to activity levels may be required. Treatment of Severs disease does NOT require surgery. This foot condition responds very well to conservative treatment.
If the child has a pronated foot, a flat or high arch, or another condition that increases the risk of Sever's disease, the doctor might recommend special shoe inserts, called orthotic devices, such as heel pads that cushion the heel as it strikes the ground, heel lifts that reduce strain on the Achilles tendon by raising the heel, arch supports that hold the heel in an ideal position. If a child is overweight or obese, the doctor will probably also recommend weight loss to decrease pressure on the heel. The risk of recurrence goes away on its own when foot growth is complete and the growth plate has fused to the rest of the heel bone, usually around age 15.