School is back in gear, which means kids’ athletics are too. Your children are probably participating in some sort of fall sport, whether it be football, soccer, or something else. Unfortunately, for many young athletes Sever’s disease can lead to kids’ heel pain, making it difficult for them to play their sport comfortably.

Sever’s disease is a condition of the epiphyseal (growth) plate in the heel. It only affects children whose feet are not finished growing. It causes inflammation to the growth plate, which in turn causes pain for the child. It occurs as a result of the bones in the heel growing faster than the tendons. This makes the tendons, particularly the Achilles, very tight and overstretched. Repeated stress from running and jumping put too much strain on this tendon and cause damage to the growth plate. It’s not a lasting condition, though. As soon as your child is finished growing and the heel bone has hardened, the pain will subside and there should be no lasting damage.

Since it is not a lasting condition, the goal of treatment is immediate pain relief. This, much to your child’s dismay, will probably mean discontinuing the physical activity that is causing the pain. They may be able to switch to something more low-impact, such as swimming or cycling, but check with us first. We will want to determine whether they in fact have Sever’s disease—or a more serious issue like a fracture.

Treatment may include having them perform certain exercises to help with muscle strengthening. The RICE method is also very effective for reducing pain. This means resting the leg, applying ice packs, using a compression stocking or bandage, and elevating the foot whenever possible to reduce swelling. We may also prescribe an oral pain reliever that is safe and fits their needs. With good, continuous care, the symptoms will usually disappear within 2 weeks to 2 months, but it’s important to address them quickly. Then your child can get back to playing their sport and everyone is happy,

For more information regarding the treatment of Sever’s disease call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel in North Andover, MA at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our North Andover, MA office.