Sever's Disease: A Common Cause of Foot Pain in Children

June 29, 2023 1:31 pm Published by

When your child’s feet start hurting, it can be difficult to determine the cause. From rare conditions to more common ailments, it’s hard to know what symptoms determine what problem. Today, we’ll take a look at what Sever’s disease is, its common symptoms, and the treatment options available to help get kids back on their feet.

A Look at Sever’s Disease

What Is Sever’s Disease?

Sever’s disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is common in children experiencing growth spurts between the ages of 8 and 15.  It is characterized as inflammation of the heel’s growth plate, which can be caused by sports or other activities that result in repetitive stress to the heel. However, the disease may also present in children who wear flat shoes even if they aren’t in repetitive-motion activities.

Do Adults “Get” Sever’s Disease?

In short, no. Adults who have heel pain may have underlying conditions, but because Sever’s disease is caused by stress to an active growth plate in the heel, this disease doesn’t foot the bill for adult heel pain symptoms. 

Foot Pain in Children and Other Sever’s Disease Symptoms

The most apparent symptom is heel pain, particularly at the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon is attached. Other symptoms include swelling of the heel and tenderness under the heel. The pain may increase if the child is running, jumping, or standing for long periods of time.

Getting a Diagnosis

Although a child’s foot with Sever’s disease may not appear any different from a healthy foot when x-rayed, a podiatrist may take x-rays to rule out other (and potentially more serious) causes of your child’s symptoms. During the examination, it’s likely that the podiatrist will apply pressure to different parts of the heel in order to check for indications of Sever’s disease. They may also ask your child to run, jump, or walk for further evaluation. They will then go over what treatment options can best relieve symptoms.

Sever’s Disease Treatment Options

There is no “cure” for Sever’s disease, as children often outgrow it over time. Since this is usually a temporary condition, the focus of treatment is to reduce pain and swelling. Typically, your podiatrist will suggest that your child limits activities for up to several months followed by strength conditioning. Pain medication, special braces, and other options may also be suggested to make your child more comfortable. With proper treatment and rest, symptoms can improve in as little as two weeks to two months.

Sever’s Disease Braces and Heel Pads

In some cases, a podiatrist may recommend that a child with severe Sever’s disease wear heel pads inside of sports shoes to absorb impact and reduce stress on the heel. Properly fitted athletic shoes are the best option for these supports, as other shoes may press on the child’s feet when the pads are added to the soles of the shoes. 

Some research indicates that different types of braces or inserts may also help in reducing pain and additional symptoms of Sever’s disease. However, it’s best to talk with your podiatrist if your child is diagnosed with Sever’s disease so that they can help devise a personalized treatment that will offer the most relief. 

Additionally, even with the use of braces or pads, a podiatrist is likely to still suggest limiting strenuous activities for a happy-heel recovery.

Relief From Sever’s Disease and More

If you suspect a child in your life may have Sever’s disease, it’s best to get them to a podiatrist to get a confirmed diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Foot & Ankle Group can assist with all aches, pains, and conditions below the knee for all ages. We’re here to help.

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