Summer is approaching fast, children will soon be out of school, and ready to engage in summer sports, and other fun activities. These young, active individuals are prone to minor injuries, but can sometimes develop more painful conditions, and is important for parents/guardians to watch for in their kids. One such condition is known as Sever’s disease and causes pain or discomfort in the heel of the foot.
What is Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is a condition resulting from inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone (calcaneus). This condition is commonly seen in children because they are still growing, the growth plates are not closed, and can be susceptible to inflammation and injury when used excessively. Since bones tend to grow faster than its attached muscles, these muscles can tighten up. This is mainly due to the Achilles tendon since it attaches to the back of heel near the growth plate. As a result, it makes the heel bone less flexible than it should be. So, when your children engage in activities such as sports or other weight-bearing activities, it can put an increased amount of pressure on the back of the heel bone, and cause injury to the growth plates.
Common Signs and Symptoms seen in Sever’s Disease
· Complaints of pain in one or both heel bones – it may be painful when standing or painful to the touch
· Swelling and redness around the heel
· Painful when walking or when heel is squeezed
· Unusual limping or walking on tiptoes
Who is at Risk?
Sever’s disease commonly affects children who are between 8-14 year of age and typically occurs during the growth spurt of adolescence. This condition is rarely seen in older teens or adults because the heel bone is done growing in the teenage years, and the growth plate eventually hardens, and becomes bone.
Other conditions can also increase the risk Sever’s disease. These can include:
· Obesity – This puts additional pressure on the growth plate, causing heel pain
· Having high or flat arches – Either of these types of arches alter the angle of the heel bone and will cause tightness of the Achilles tendon, resulting in heel pain
· Flat Feet – When standing or walking on a flat foot, the ankle rolls in an undesired manner, and causes tightness of the Achilles tendon, which results in heel pain.
How do I Treat it?
The first goal in treatment is to relieve the pain since the pain usually worsens with an increase in activity. So, making sure your child receives rest is important in reducing the pressure on the heel. It is also important to minimize the amount of activities or change the activity type (swimming, music, art, etc.) performed by the child to help reduce the pain and pressure on the heel. Performing leg and foot stretches will also help strengthen the leg muscles and minimize the heel pain. If there is any additional swelling, then icing the foot, and wrapping it can help decrease the swelling.
If your child is consistently complaining of heel pain, it could be a case of Sever’s disease. Please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you and your child to ensure they continue to happily engage in their recreational activities without pain.