What is Sever’s disease? And could it be the cause of your child’s foot or heel pain? Let’s get to know this condition so you can easily recognize the problem and take action to correct it.
Few things are worse for parents than watching one of their children suffer, but pain from Sever’s disease may be preventable and is always treatable.
Understanding Sever’s Disease
Named for James Warren Sever, the American podiatrist who first recognized it in 1912, Sever’s disease is a condition that occurs in children — often adolescents who are starting a new sport or starting a new season of their favorite sport. This heel pain occurs because the heel bone grows more quickly than the leg, creating pain if weight is placed on the heel.
The pain gets worse when the child is running, jumping or even walking. It usually exhibits itself in exactly the same way as plantar fasciitis, a common type of heel pain in adults, and can cause limping or require withdrawal from sports.
The heel usually doesn’t look swollen at all, and there’s no visible bruising or other outward signs of the condition, causing some parents to think a child is faking to get out of an activity or experiencing only minor symptoms.
X-rays look normal too, but diagnosis by a doctor is quick and sure: If squeezing on the heel in a particular way causes pain, the child has Sever’s disease.
Treating Sever’s Disease
Treatments are all aimed at relieving the pain and decreasing the pressure on the heel growth plate.
Elevating the heel is recommended, as is stretching the calf muscles and hamstrings two or three times a day to indirectly stretch the heel area. Rest, ice or heat and compression may also help.
In the most severe cases, physical therapy and open-backed shoes may be prescribed. High heels should be avoided.
For many patients, use of children’s shoe insoles is recommended because many of these inserts specifically target heel problems. Many makers offer special shoe inserts for children’s shoes, and most brands are available in sizes to fit children’s shoes.
The good news is that most cases of Sever’s disease go away even without any treatment — although the pain can be excruciating if it isn’t managed while the condition is occurring. That’s why rest, treatment and shoe insoles are so important.
In most cases, Sever’s disease doesn’t cause any long-term complications and may go away in as little as two weeks. Other cases take months or even years to resolve. The condition could start as early as age 9 to 11 and continue through the teen years. It’s often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis and could morph into that condition if high-impact activities are continued with no treatment and no effort is made to improve heel cushioning and stability.
To limit your child’s pain and help them get back into their game, choose the right children’s shoe insoles and take the other actions necessary to put an end to Sever’s disease symptoms.