Sever’s Disease

While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults, Sever’s Disease (also known as Calcaneal apophysitis) is most commonly found in teens. Because the Achilles tendon reaches maturity at a faster rate than the heel bone, it can often pull tightly on the heel bone until it catches up.

What causes Sever’s disease?

Stress and overuse on the heel bone, usually through participation in sports, are a major cause of Sever’s disease. The growth plate on the heel is sensitive to repeated running and pounding on hard surfaces. For this reason, children and adolescents involved in basketball, track or soccer are especially vulnerable. Other potential causes include obesity, a tight Achilles tendon, flatfoot or a having a high-arched foot.

What are the symptoms of Sever’s disease?

Symptoms of Sever’s disease include:

  • Walking on toes
  • Limping
  • Pain in the back or bottom of the heel
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty or pain when running, jumping or participating in sports
  • Pain when the sides of the heel are squeezed

Treatment and Prevention

Your foot and ankle specialist may decide from one or more of the following ways to treat Sever’s disease:

  • Scale back on activity
    • Reduce or stop any activity that causes pain
  • Heel support
    • Shoe inserts or custom orthotics may provide support better heel support
  • Medication
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, reduce pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy
    • Physical therapy modalities are often used to promote healing of the inflamed issue. Consider incorporating stretching into morning routines to reduce the likelihood of flare-ups.
  • Immobilization
    • In some severe cases of adolescent heel pain, a cast or splint may be utilized to assist healing while keeping the foot and ankle totally immobile.

Keep in mind that heel pain in children returns after it has been treated more often than not because the heel bone is still growing. If your child experiencing chronic, severe heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with your foot and ankle specialist.

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