Sever's disease, or calcaneal apophysitis, is a common cause of heel pain among active children between 10 to 13 years old. This spontaneous heel pain results from injury to the heel bone?s growth
plate which is caused by overuse rather than specific injury or trauma. The condition is common among athletic children, particularly those active in soccer, football, and baseball. Treatment is
available to reduce pain and discomfort associated with Sever's disease, but the condition usually resolves on its own once feet stop growing.
Children are at greatest risk of developing Sever's disease when they have reached the early part of a growth spurt in early puberty. For girls, this is typically around ages 8 to 10. For boys, it
happens somewhere between the ages of 10 to 12. By the age of 15, the back of the heel has typically stopped growing in most children, and Sever's disease becomes rare. Any running or jumping
activities can increase the odds that a child will develop Sever's disease. Soccer and gymnastics are two common sports that tend to put kids at risk.
Sever condition causes pain at the back of the heel. The pain is increased with plantar flexion of the ankle (pushing down with the foot as if stepping on the gas), particularly against resistance.
Sever condition also causes tenderness and swelling in the area of the pain.
X-rays are normal in Sever's disease, but your doctor will probably get X-rays to rule out other problems. Treatment consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and use of a heel lift to
relieve tension on the calcaneal apophysis. In more severe cases, phycical therapy consisting of modalities to relieve the pain, and stretching exercises may be helpful. In extreme cases, castings
have been used.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment is primarily directed towards reducing the amount of stress to the heel. Often a heel lift, is placed in the shoe to reduce the pull of the Achilles tendon on the apophysis. Gel or
cushioned heel cups may also be helpful in reducing micro trauma to the heel. Orthotic control may also be indicated when a pathologic condition exists in the foot that may be contributing to the
increased heel stress. Occasionally, it becomes necessary for adequate healing, to rest the area completely. This can be accomplished either by complete elimination of all strenuous activities, or by
using a walking cast or crutches. Often simply reducing activity levels is adequate. Your physician will discuss the best treatment plan with you and your child.
The surgeon may select one or more of the following options to treat calcaneal apophysitis. Reduce activity. The child needs to reduce or stop any activity that causes pain. Support the heel.
Temporary shoe inserts or custom orthotic devices may provide support for the heel. Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and
inflammation. Physical therapy. Stretching or physical therapy modalities are sometimes used to promote healing of the inflamed issue. Immobilization. In some severe cases of pediatric heel pain, a
cast may be used to promote healing while keeping the foot and ankle totally immobile. Often heel pain in children returns after it has been treated because the heel bone is still growing. Recurrence
of heel pain may be a sign of calcaneal apophysitis, or it may indicate a different problem. If your child has a repeat bout of heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with your foot and ankle