By Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care
September 06, 2016
Tags: Sever's Disease  

Fall brings a new school year, the start of the fall sports season and, for some children and teens, a painful heel condition known at Sever’s Disease, which we at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care see often in young athletes. Not actually a “disease,” this disorder occurs when the growth plate at the back of the heel becomes inflamed, making playing a sport and even simply walking a challenge.

Risk Factors

Sever’s Disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) usually strikes children ages 8 to 14. The heel bone is still developing during this phase of a child’s life and the new bone is forming at the growth plate creating a weak spot in the heel. When there is an excessive amount of repetitive pounding and stress on the foot, inflammation can flare up causing severe pain.

It’s important to recognize the signs of Sever’s Disease, particularly in children on the younger side who may not be able to articulate the discomfort in their ankles. Other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Pain when the sides of the heel are being squeezed
  • Limping
  • Walking on tip toes
  • Difficulty running or participating in sports usually enjoyed
  • Tiredness or complaints of not wanting to play

The main source of this disorder is overuse and stress due to a sport. Participants in two fall sports in particular—track and soccer—which involve a good amount of running and pounding on the heel, have a higher risk of developing Sever’s Disease. There are other factors that can make a child more prone to Sever’s Disease and these include: a tight Achilles tendon, biomechanical foot problems like a high arch or flatfeet and obesity.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah will need to examine your child’s foot and find out about his or her activities. The podiatrist may also want x-rays or other imaging studies done to better evaluate the heel and rule out other conditions or injuries.

Once a diagnosis of Sever’s Disease is confirmed, the foot doctor has a number of non-invasive treatment options including: physical therapy, immobilization, custom orthotics and medication. A treatment plan will be created to suit your child’s particular needs.

As a parent, it’s important not to ignore a child’s complaints of foot pain. Early detection and treatment of foot problems leads to the best results with less chance of chronic issues later on. If your child is experiencing any foot or ankle discomfort, contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office for an appointment today.