7 things to know about Sever’s disease – Cleveland Clinic
If your working school-age child complains of heel pain, you can attribute it to poorly fitting shoes. But that may not be the whole story.
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Certainly, new shoes can cause heel pain. But physical activity – especially sports – can also trigger a problem called Sever’s disease or pediatric calcaneal apophysitis.
It’s a scary bite. But the good news is that Sever’s disease is treatable and won’t cause lasting damage.
We asked podiatrist Christopher Herbert, DPM, to answer seven common questions about this childhood illness:
Q: What is Sever’s disease?
A: It is a very common problem in young children, involving the open growth plates in their heels, next to the Achilles tendon.
Although Sever’s disease is temporary, children can have it for several years until their growth plates close.
It usually develops between the ages of 8 and 14, but the timing may vary depending on the child and their growth.
Q: Are certain sports more likely to be the cause?
A: Any physical activity can irritate the growth plate of a growing child’s heel. Basketball is known to cause Sever’s disease, but soccer, soccer, and athletics are also common causes.
Any sport that requires a lot of jumping can trigger Sever’s disease, depending on the children’s sport or practice.
Playing sports all year round can often trigger it, as young bones do not have time to fully recover between sports seasons.
Q: What are the symptoms of Sever’s disease?
A: Pain in the foot or heel is different for every child. Some children have difficulty walking, while others may just have mild heel pain.
Some children will limp, while others will have difficulty walking.
Q: Are some children more at risk than others?
A: Yes. Children with Sever’s disease tend to have a high, stiff, or stiff arch of the foot and often strained Achilles tendons. The problem can be structural and biomechanical.
Children with flatter feet usually don’t get Sever’s disease as often. Their loose feet seem better able to absorb the shock of the jump.
Q: What is the treatment for Sever’s disease?
A: Children generally feel better with less activity. We give them anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (acetaminophen doesn’t work as well for this). This usually reduces symptoms.
We also ask them to put ice on their socks and wear a heel if they are still in pain. This cushions the heel and provides better shock absorption.
If these measures don’t work, children often have to use a walking boot to really reduce their activity.
In dramatic cases, children should stop playing sports and wear a fiberglass walking cast for two to four weeks. This usually fixes the problem.
Q: Does heel pain come back after treatment?
A: It can. We just have to see why this is happening.
To keep the pain from coming back, children can wear heels, take anti-inflammatory medication before playing sports, and maybe change their play or training schedule a bit.
Custom molded foot orthotics have been shown to be beneficial in preventing recurrent heel pain.
The good news is that this condition goes away as the heel growth plate matures and fuses, and there is no long-term damage.
But Sever’s disease causes a lot of pain and can be quite debilitating for one or two sports seasons.
Q: Anything else parents should know?
A: We look at many different things on a physical exam for sports, but we often neglect the feet and ankles.
But a problem like this can prevent your child from playing sports normally.
The main thing to remember is that children shouldn’t have sore feet or ankles unless they have suffered an injury, such as stepping on something and breaking a bone.
If your child has pain in his foot or heel after exercising, ask the doctor to examine him.