Sever’s disease is a type of bone injury in which the growth plate in the lower back of the heel becomes inflamed and irritated causing pain. The growth plate is a layer of cartilage in the lower back of the heel where most growth of the bone takes place. Sever’s disease is the most common cause of heel pain in growing children and adolescents. It especially affects growing children and adolescents who exercise or play sports regularly.
Pain or tenderness in one or both heels is the most common symptom of Sever’s disease. The pain is usually felt at the back of the heel and may extend to the sides and bottom of the heel.
Other symptoms include:
The first treatment option for individuals with Sever’s disease is to abstain from exercise or activities that put pressure on the heel. Avoid walking, running, jogging, and other weight-bearing exercises or activities to relieve pressure from the heel bone. Other treatment options may include:
Applying ice: Placing ice packs on the affected heel every 1 to 2 hours for 15 minutes at a time can help reduce pain and inflammation. Remember to wrap the ice pack inside a damp towel before placing it on the heel.
OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Physical therapy: Certain home exercise program recommended by your physical therapist can help with stretching and strengthening of the heel bone.
Supportive shoe inserts/orthotics: Supportive shoe inserts can help reduce the stress and pressure on the heel.
Wearing comfortable shoes: Always wear comfortable shoes such as sneakers with padded soles. Avoid wearing tight shoes. Wear shoes with low heels and avoid shoes with high heels.
Compression stockings: Wear compression stockings or using elastic wraps to help alleviate pain and swelling.
Leg cast: If the pain and swelling is severe, your doctor may recommend using a short leg cast to limit the movement of the ankle and heel.
Sever’s disease can come and go. It may go away on its own after resting and avoiding exercises or activities that worsen the symptoms. Sever’s disease typically lasts for 2 to 3 months or longer in some people and can recur over time.
Resting and taking pressure off the heel, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and applying ice on the affected heel are some of the fastest ways to get rid of Sever’s disease.
The strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone is called the Achilles’ tendon. Repetitive stress on the Achilles’ tendon can cause Sever’s disease. In children, the heel bone grows faster than the ligaments in the leg. Due to this increased growth rate, muscles and tendons can become tight and overstretched. Pressure is exerted on the foot when standing, running, walking or jogging. This constant pressure on the heel can damage the growth plate which can cause pain and inflammation.
Limiting or avoiding exercises and activities that exert pressure on the heel is very important to recovery. If you must play sports, engage in sports such as swimming or rowing that won’t put pressure on your heels.
Sever’s disease can go away on its own from rest and avoiding activities that exert pressure on your heels. If symptoms persist, you should seek treatments to avoid worsening your symptoms.
Soft tissue massage or joint mobilizations are pain reducing techniques that your physical therapist can use to reduce pain from Sever’s disease.
Sever’s disease pain may feel like a bruise or stabbing pain commonly felt at the back of the heel but may also affect the sides and bottom of the heel. The pain tends to get worse during or immediately after physical activity. The pain usually reduces during rest.
No. Symptoms completely go away when the growth plates heal.
Yes. Compression socks provide support to the arch and heel. They also help reinforce the growth plate and relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon. Compression socks provide relief by encouraging blood circulation, which prevents fluid build-up and swelling.
No. Sever’s disease typically affects growing children and adolescents. This is because the growth plate is still in the process of fusing together in growing children and adolescents. In adults, the growth plates have already completely fused. The back of the heel hardens and becomes stronger, making it difficult to get irritated or inflamed.
Yes. Sever’s disease is more common in growing children between the ages of 7 and 15 years.
Growth plates are also found in the knees. During high impact activities such as football, running, jumping, basketball, volleyball and jogging, the knee and foot can get irritated or inflamed. The more stress placed on the growth plates, the more you’re likely to feel pain in your knee and foot.
Does your child have Sever’s disease? Schedule an appointment with Graff Foot Ankle and Wound Care. Call (972) 403-7733 today or use our convenient Request an Appointment form to schedule your visit.
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