Another name for Sever?s Disease is calcaneal apophysitis. The heel bone is called the calcaneus. Sever?s Disease is heel pain thought to be caused by inflammation around the growth plate in the calcaneus (apophysis). It is most likely due to repetitive overuse during sports and exercise, which causes increased strain on the heel growth plate. Sever?s Disease won?t cause long-term damage or arthritis. Sever?s Disease is often associated with tight heel tendons. It most commonly affects physically active children who are between the ages of 8, 14 years old, such as soccer players and gymnasts.
There are several causes of heel pain in the young athletic population with the most common being calcaneal apophysitis (also referred to as Sever?s disease). Sever first reported calcaneal apophysitis in 1912 as an inflammation of the apophysis, causing discomfort to the heel, mild swelling and difficulty walking in growing children. The condition usually manifests between the ages of 8 and 14 with a higher incidence in boys than girls. In reality, however, calcaneal apophysitis is being diagnosed more frequently in girls due to their increase in participating in sports such as soccer, basketball and softball.
The patient complains of activity related pain that usually settles with rest. On Examination the heel bone – or calcaneum – is tender on one or both sides. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) may be tight and bending of the ankle might be limited because of that. Foot pronation (rolling in) often exacerbates the problem. There is rarely anything to see and with no redness or swelling and a pain that comes and goes mum and dad often wait before seeking advice on this condition. The pain may come on partway through a game and get worse or come at the end of the game. Initially pain will be related only to activity but as it gets worse the soreness will still be there the next morning and the child might limp on first getting up.
To diagnose the cause of the child?s heel pain and rule out other more serious conditions, the foot and ankle surgeon obtains a thorough medical history and asks questions about recent activities. The surgeon will also examine the child?s foot and leg. X-rays are often used to evaluate the condition. Other advanced imaging studies and laboratory tests may also be ordered.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest is best to allow healing .Only do as much exercise as able without causing pain. Many children can continue to play sports but if pain is severe then stopping the activity may be the only way to allow the pain to settle. The child might be able to do things that do not put pressure on the heel, such as swimming and cycling. Ice and cold therapy may be useful to reduce pain and swelling, particularly following activity or sport. The area should be iced until it feels cold not ?frozen?. Never apply ice directly onto the skin, as this may cause tissue damage. Medication. The following will help treat your child?s pain. Paracetamol (see bottle for instructions) Ibuprofen (see bottle for instructions). Exercises, perform foot and leg exercises to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles & tendons. Increase calf flexibility by doing calf stretches several times per day. Protect the heel, your shoes might need a heel lift or arch support. Select a shoe with good arch support and heel lift if possible. Take it one step at a time: gradually resume running and impact activities as symptoms allow.
Having Sever?s disease does not predispose children or teens to any other condition, nor is it a permanent problem. It is self-limiting, and when treated, the pain and other symptoms will abate within a few weeks. Once the growth plate has finished growing, Sever?s disease will resolve and won?t recur. It is important to continue to treat any underlying foot conditions and to avoid any long periods of inactivity.