Sever’s Disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is a very common foot condition for active children. It usually presents itself between the ages of 8 and 14, usually around the same time as a growth spurt and is predominantly found in young boys. However, there has been an increase of Sever’s Disease found in girls due to their increased participation in sports.
While the condition does have the word “disease” in it, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Sever’s Disease is simply the swelling of the growth plate in the heel of growing children. When a child goes through a growth spurt, the bone grows at a faster rate than the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around it. This means that the soft tissue gets stretched tight and then causes growing pains. When a child is active in sports, this puts extra strain on the already stretched tendons attached to the growing part of the heel.
Sever’s disease is commonly found in soccer players and gymnasts. However, children that do any form of running or jumping can be a risk. It will usually manifest itself shortly after a child begins a new sports season or a new sport. By the time puberty hits, Sever’s Disease is rarely an issue since the back of the heel is typically finished growing by then.
While Sever’s Disease should be diagnosed by a medical professional, there are few symptoms that can indicate a child may have it:
- Walking on tiptoes
- Pain, swelling, or redness in one or both heels
- Heel pain that gets worse after running or jumping
Another way to see if a child has the painful heel condition is by conducting the “squeeze test”. This is done by taking the child’s heel and squeezing both sides, towards the back. If the squeeze elicits pain in that region, chances are Sever’s Disease is present.
One of the first things a parent can do for a child that’s experiencing pain from Sever’s Disease is to have them cut down or stop the activity that caused it. Applying ice to the hurting heel for 20 minutes, three times a day and massaging the calf will help with the pain. A child who is suffering from Sever’s Disease should never go barefoot. Taping the foot using the low dye taping method or utilizing a brace like The X Brace can also provide relief.
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