Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is a painful bone disorder that results from inflammation (swelling) of the growth plate in the heel. A growth plate, also called an epiphyseal plate, is an area at the end of a developing bone where cartilage cells change over time into bone cells. As this occurs, the growth plates expand and unite, which is how bones grow.
Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in growing kids, especially those who are physically active. It usually occurs during the growth spurt of adolescence, the approximately 2-year period in early puberty when kids grow most rapidly. This growth spurt can begin any time between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 10 and 15 for boys.
Sever’s disease rarely occurs in older teens because the back of the heel usually finishes growing by the age of 15, when the growth plate hardens and the growing bones fuse together into mature bone.
Signs and Symptoms of Sever’s disease
The most obvious sign of Sever’s disease is pain or tenderness in one or both heels, usually at the back. The pain also might extend to the sides and bottom of the heel, ending near the arch of the foot.
A child also may have these related problems:
swelling and redness in the heel
discomfort or stiffness in the feet upon awaking
discomfort when the heel is squeezed on both sides
an unusual walk, such as walking with a limp or on tiptoes to avoid putting pressure on the heel
Treatment of Sever’s Disease
The immediate goal of treatment is pain relief. Because symptoms generally worsen with activity, the main treatment for Sever’s disease is rest, which helps to relieve pressure on the heel bone, decreasing swelling and reducing pain.
As directed by the Chiropodist, a child should cut down on or avoid all activities that cause pain until all symptoms are gone, especially running barefoot or on hard surfaces because hard impact on the feet can worsen pain and inflammation. The child might be able to do things that do not put pressure on the heel, such as swimming and biking, but check with a Chiropodist first.
For more information on Sever's disease, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Hardy, owner of Academy Foot and Orthotic Clinics at 416-465-8737.