Sever?s disease is the most common cause of heel pain in children aged 9 to 14. Sever?s disease results from stress placed on the growth plate of the heel bone. An excessive amount of running or other activities can cause inflammation around the growth plate, which results in pain. Rest, ice and orthotics and proper shoes are usually prescribed.
The cause of Sever's disease is not entirely clear. It is most likely due to overuse or repeated minor trauma that happens in a lot of sporting activities - the cartilage join between the two parts of the bone can not take all the shear stress of the activities. Some children seem to be just more prone to it for an unknown reason - combine this with sport, especially if its on a hard surface and the risk of getting it increases. It can be almost epidemic at the start of some sports seasons, especially winter. At the start of winter, the grounds are often harder, but soften later. Children who are heavier are also at greater risk for developing calcaneal apophysitis.
Pain symptoms usually begin after a child begins a new sport or sporting season, and can worsen with athletic activities that involve running and jumping. It is common for a child with Sever?s disease to walk with a limp. Increased activity can lead to heel cord tightness (Achilles Tendon), resulting in pressure on the apophysis of the calcaneus. This will cause irritation of the growth plate and sometimes swelling in the heel area thus producing pain. This usually occurs in the early stages of puberty.
A physical exam of the heel will show tenderness over the back of the heel but not in the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. There may be tightness in the calf muscle, which contributes to tension on the heel. The tendons in the heel get stretched more in patients with flat feet. There is greater impact force on the heels of athletes with a high-arched, rigid foot. The doctor may order an x-ray because x-rays can confirm how mature the growth center is and if there are other sources of heel pain, such as a stress fracture or bone cyst. However, x-rays are not necessary to diagnose Sever?s disease, and it is not possible to make the diagnosis based on the x-ray alone.
Non Surgical Treatment
Decreasing or stopping sport is necessary until the pain reduces. Let pain be your guide, as it decreases you can slowly return to all activities. To help settle inflammation use an ice pack or rub an ice cube over the
painful area for 5 minutes daily whilst pain persists. Wearing supportive trainers during the day can help to soften the impact of walking on the heel. Encourage a normal pattern of walking. Complete the stretches below every day and before and after activity until your symptoms settle.