Does your child suffer from heel pain?
Sever’s Disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is the primary cause of heel pain in growing children and adolescents aged 8-15 years old.
Sever’s disease is caused by repetitive stress or tension on the growth plate in the heel bone during exercise. This is commonly caused by a mismatch in the growth rate of the shin bone and the calf muscles. Risk factors include obesity and high levels of physical activity. Children involved in high impact, running based sports such as athletics, soccer and tennis are more likely to develop Sever’s disease.
Continuing to participate in pain provocative activities will not result in permanent damage to your child’s foot, however, it may exacerbate the pain. Luckily, Sever’s disease is a manageable condition although the recovery period can vary among children from just a few months to a few years. A full recovery is expected once the growth plate fuses.
What to look out for?
It is important to listen to your children if they are complaining of heel pain. Symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in one or both heels during activities that require jumping or running
- Worsening pain after high impact exercise
- Limping or walking on their toes to avoid pain
- Redness or swelling around the heel
Sever’s disease is diagnosed by a health professional through a clinical examination. Sever’s disease is not observable on X-rays however, they may be useful for ruling out other conditions.
Fortunately, Sever’s disease is generally a self-limiting condition and will resolve as the growth plate closes. In the meantime, there are many options to assist in managing pain and allowing them to remain physical active.
- Education – developing management strategies with the child and parent to manage flare ups
- Activity modification – reducing participation in pain inducing activities, briefly prioritising water sports and cycling over running sports
- Heel raises/cups in shoes or orthotics in severe cases
- Ice packs for pain relief
- Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen may be used for acute flare ups
- Physio directed exercises
For a structured management plan of your child’s heel pain, seek the assistance of Motus Health and Performance Physiotherapy
To learn more about how we teach our young sport stars to move well check out our Youth Program