What is Sever’s disease?
Sever’s disease occurs in children when the part of the heel that is still growing, the growth plate, is injured. The foot is one of the first body parts in children to grow to full size. Typically this occurs in early puberty. During this time, bones often grow faster than surrounding muscles and tendons. As a result, muscles and tendons will become tight. The heel area is less flexible than other areas of the body and can be easily injured. During weight-bearing activity (activity performed while standing), the tight heel tendons may put too much pressure at the back of the heel (where the Achilles tendon attaches) resulting in injury.
When is my child most at risk for Sever’s disease?
Your child is most at risk for this condition when he or she is in the early part of the growth spurt (early puberty). Sever’s disease is most common in physically active girls 8 to 10 years old and in physically active boys 10 to 12 years old. Children who do any running or jumping activity may be affected. Sever’s disease rarely occurs in older teenagers because the back of the heel has finished growing by the age of 15.
How do I know if my child’s heel pain is caused by Sever’s disease?
In Sever’s disease, heel pain can be in one or both heels. It usually starts after a child begins a new sports season or a new sport. Your child may walk with a limp. The pain may increase when he or she stands on tiptoe. Your child’s heel may hurt if you squeeze both sides toward the very back. This is called the squeeze test. A doctor can also be a good source of diagnosing your child with Sever’s disease.
How is Sever’s disease treated?
The first step to treat Sever’s disease is to have your child cut down or stop any activity that causes heel pain. Apply ice to the injured heel for 25 minutes 3 times a day. If your child has a high arch, flat feet or bowed legs, your doctor may recommend orthotic arch supports, arch supports or heel cups. Visit TheInsoleStore.com for clinically designed, doctor recommended Arch Angels Childrens Comfort Insoles, Powerstep Pediatrics Orthotics, or the Spenco Kids Total Support Insoles that can prevent or relieve Sever’s disease symptoms. If your child has severe heel pain, medicines such as acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) may help.
Can Sever’s disease be prevented?
Sever’s disease may be prevented by maintaining good flexibility while your child is growing. Again, ask your doctor for advice or for a regime of stretching exercises. If possible, your child should avoid excessive running on hard surfaces.