If you have a child who is an avid athlete and has started to complain of heel pain, a condition known as Sever’s Disease may be to blame. Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever’s Disease is an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. It most often affects children ages 8-15 because the growth plate is not fully developed then and the newly forming bone creates a weak area at the back of the heel.
Who is Susceptible to Sever’s Disease?
At New England Foot and Ankle Specialists, we see several risk factors that make a child more likely to get Sever’s Disease. These include:
- Sports participation—this is by far the most common cause, particularly for children who play sports that involve excessive amounts of pounding on the heel such as running, basketball, football, soccer and baseball. Cleats are also known to increase the aggravation to the heel area.
- Tight Achilles tendon—results in strain on the heel bone growth plate from the pulling done by tight tendon
- Overly high arch or flatfeet
- Being overweight
Our foot and ankle doctors, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., or Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M., will conduct a thorough examination of your child’s foot, heel and lower leg to reach a diagnosis. The podiatrist will also ask questions about activities and symptoms. X-rays or other imaging studies may be ordered to rule out a heel fracture or other heel problem. Once Sever’s Disease is confirmed, the foot doctor will determine the correct treatment for your child.
The immediate aim of treatment is to relieve the pain and discomfort of Sever’s Disease. This means your child will have to take a break from whatever activity is causing the condition. In extreme cases, the heel may need to be immobilized for a period of time. Icing the heel and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed for pain. Depending on the cause of the heel growth plate inflammation, the podiatrist may prescribe heel pads to protect the inflamed area, orthotics to correct an arch problem or stretching exercises to loosen the Achilles tendon.
With this, or any other pain in the heel or foot that your child experiences, you should never encourage them to “play through it.” Make an appointment at either our Reading office today by calling (781) 944-4044.