Severs Disease In Young Children

Overview

Sever?s disease is the most common cause of heel pain in the growing athlete and is due to overuse and repetitive microtrauma of growth plates in the heel. It occurs in children ages 7 to 15, with the majority of patients presenting between 10 and 14 years of age. Sever?s disease will go away on its own when it is used less or when the bone is through growing, but it can recur (for example, at the start of a new sports season). Traditionally, the only known cure was for children to outgrow the condition, with recurrences happening an average of 18 months before this occurs.

Causes

Sever’s Disease is a repetitive strain injury caused by the following. High impact injury activities and sport like netball, football, soccer, hockey, basketball, running, jumping and tennis. Tight calf muscles. Poor mechanics, structure and function of the foot. Excessive pronation. Rapid growth spurt. The above causes tension, inflammation and pain where the Achilles tendon inserts onto the calcaneus (Back/bottom surface of the heel bone). It is important that this problem is treated and monitored until the growth plate ossifies in the heel. This could occur between the ages of 14 and 16 years of age. In extreme cases the growth plate can become separated from the calcaneus.

Symptoms

A few signs and symptoms point to Sever?s disease, which may affect one or both heels. These include Pain at the heel or around the Achilles tendon, Heel pain during physical exercise, especially activities that require running or jumping, Worsening of pain after exercise, A tender swelling or bulge on the heel that is sore to touch, Calf muscle stiffness first thing in the morning, Limping, A tendency to tiptoe.

Diagnosis

A physical exam of the heel will show tenderness over the back of the heel but not in the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. There may be tightness in the calf muscle, which contributes to tension on the heel. The tendons in the heel get stretched more in patients with flat feet. There is greater impact force on the heels of athletes with a high-arched, rigid foot. The doctor may order an x-ray because x-rays can confirm how mature the growth center is and if there are other sources of heel pain, such as a stress fracture or bone cyst. However, x-rays are not necessary to diagnose Sever?s disease, and it is not possible to make the diagnosis based on the x-ray alone.

Non Surgical Treatment

If your child suffers from Sever?s Disease, it is important you take him or her to see your podiatrist, as it can take some time for the condition to completely resolve. Possible treatment options for Sever?s disease may include. Rest from aggravating activities. Ice massage to reduce localised inflammation. Heel lifts placed inside the shoe to reduce the strain on the growth plate. Athletic footwear advice, poor footwear can sometimes be the major contributing factor in the development of Sever?s disease. Orthotic therapy, if your child has an abnormal foot posture that is contributing to the development of Sever?s disease, this will need to be treated with orthotic therapy. Orthotics for Sever?s disease may need to be prescription (custom-made) or non-prescription foot orthotics depending on your child?s foot posture, Exercise program, stretching exercises to improve flexibility of the leg muscles and strengthening exercises to address any foot muscle weakness or imbalance. Avoid barefoot walking, hill running and training on hard surfaces.

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