When your children participate in sports, it can help them develop physically and socially. It’s a great way to keep them physically active, but it also comes with risks of injury. In particular, for children ages 9 to 14, Sever’s Disease can affect their growing heel bones. This disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is usually brought on by an injury while playing sports.
What is it?
Sever’s Disease is a condition of pain that develops as a result of overuse. Children playing sports that include walking, running or jumping can experience painful heels from the repetitive impact on the growth plate. Since the heel bone and tendons are still growing, they are more at risk of injury.
What are the symptoms?
When children complain of heel pain or limp due to heel pain, the foot should be examined. The pain is felt mostly along the bottom and rear of the heel, and may show no exterior symptoms. Our podiatrist can check for a sure sign of the disease by using the “squeeze test”, in which the sides of the heel are squeezed, causing immediate discomfort or pain for the child. Remember that prolonged pain in the feet is not normal and should not be attributed to “growing pains”.
How is it treated?
The immediate treatment includes resting and icing the heel bone to reduce pain and inner inflammation of the growth plate.
- If the heel feels discomfort sometimes, but not all the time: Some children may insist on finishing the season. If the pain is not severe, your child may be able to use heel cups, stretching exercises, and orthotics to prevent worsening symptoms. After the season, you’ll need to rest the feet to allow for recovery.
- If putting weight on the foot is painful all the time: This may indicate a severe condition and your child should stop activity for at least 2 weeks. In some cases, our podiatrist will recommend use of a walking boot or cast.
Sever’s Disease can sometimes resolve itself as the heel bone fully develops. This can be as simple as resting for several weeks, or continuous pain for many years. In other cases, it can lead to some developmental problems as the bone continues to grow. In very rare cases of severe injury, bone can break off at the point of attachment to the Achilles tendon.
While we understand the importance of finishing a season or your child not wanting to miss out on sports activities, it’s better to come see us for treatment to decide whether or not they should continue playing. Treating earlier can mean missing out on less of their favorite activities. Consult with our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Brandon Macy. Our team is here to treat your family’s needs at The New Jersey Children’s Foot Health Institute at Clark Podiatry Center. Make an appointment to see us today at our Clark, NJ office.