Sever’s disease is a condition that can cause heel pain in many young, growing children, especially those who are active and participate in sports. There is not much you can do to prevent this condition from happening, but practicing good children’s foot care can help get everyone through it.
What Is Sever’s Disease?
This is a foot condition that only affects children, particularly those who are going through a growth spurt. It occurs most often in children who are active or play sports, and is one of the number one causes of heel pain in young people. This condition is a growth plate problem, meaning that once your child’s feet are finished growing the pain will go away. If your child is complaining of heel pain, there are a number of signs of which to be aware. He or she may have difficulty with walking and standing, especially first thing in the morning. There might be redness and swelling in the heel area, and discomfort when the heel is squeezed from both sides. Children might also walk or run with an abnormal gait due to the pain they are feeling. These symptoms are typically worse during physical activity and get better when they are at rest.
How it Sprouts Up
Sever’s disease is not really something that you can foresee. However, there are a number of risk factors that can contribute to its presence. During puberty, the body is growing very rapidly, and sometimes the heel bone grows faster than the leg muscles and tendons, pulling and tightening them. This puts added pressure on the growth plate in the heel and can cause pain and inflammation. Anything that puts added stress on the growth plate will increase the likelihood of developing this condition. This might include playing sports that involve a lot of running or jumping, being overweight, having flat feet, and walking with an overpronated gait (foot rolls to far inward when stepping).
Easing the Pain
The goal of treating this condition is pain relief. Since the problem will go away after the growth spurt is over, there will be no lasting damage, but none of us want our children to be in pain. One thing you can do is have your child discontinue the activity that is causing the pain. Have them do something more low-impact (swimming or cycling) until their discomfort subsides. There are also stretches that they can do to help with muscle strengthening and flexibility. A compression stocking can help with pain, swelling, and inflammation, as can medication. Your podiatrist can also prescribe a custom-made orthotic to help offer support and padding to the heel.
Getting Medical Help
If you have more questions about children’s foot care, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 and make an appointment at one of our three Massachusetts offices. We can offer you more advice on how to help your child get through the heel pain of Sever’s disease so that they can get back to doing what they love.