Sever?s disease is also known as calcaneal apophysitis, which is a medical condition that causes heel pain In one or both feet. The disease is known to affect children between the ages of 8 and 14. Sever?s disease occurs when part of the child?s heel known as the growth plate (calcaneal epiphysis) is attached to the Achilles tendon. This area can suffer injury when the muscles and tendons of the growing foot do not keep pace with bone growth. Therefore, the constant pain which one experiences at the back of the heel will make the child unable to put any weight on the heel. The child is then forced to walk on their toes. Toe gait- develops in which the child must change the way they walk to avoid placing weight on the heel. This can lead to other problems as well in the future.
The actual pathology of the condition is one of more of an overuse syndrome in which the growth plate of the heel may become slightly displaced, causing pain. Biopsies of similar conditions have shown changes consistent with separation of the cartilage. The cause of Sever's disease is not entirely clear. It is most likely due to overuse or repeated minor trauma that happens in a lot of sporting activities - the cartilage join between the two parts of the bone can not take all the shear stress of the activities. Some children seem to be just more prone to it for an unknown reason, combine this with sport, especially if its on a hard surface and the risk of getting it increases. A pronated foot and tight calf muscles are common contributing factors. The condition is very similar to Osgood-Schlatters Disease which occurs at the knee.
The pain associated with Sever's disease is usually felt along the back of the heel and becomes worse when running or walking. In some children, the pain is so severe they may limp when walking. One of the diagnostic tests for Sever's disease is the "squeeze test". Squeezing both sides of the heel together will produce immediate discomfort. Many children feel pain immediately upon waking and may have calf muscle stiffness in the morning.
Your Podiatrist or Physiotherapist will assist in diagnosing the injury and the extent of the damage. From this, they will develop a management plan which may include rest or activity modification, soft tissue treatment such as massage and stretching, correction of biomechanics through heel raises or orthoses and the progression through a series of specific strengthening exercises.
Non Surgical Treatment
Resting the foot and applying ice to the affected area are some of the most effective methods when it comes to treating Sever?s Disease. Make sure the ice is always wrapped in a cloth of some sort. Applying ice directly to the skin can cause frostbite. A monitored stretching program of the lower limbs (particularly of the calf muscles) as well as a small heel lift may also be suggested.
One of the most important things to know about Sever's disease is that, with proper care, the condition usually goes away within 2 weeks to 2 months and does not cause any problems later in life. The sooner Sever's disease is addressed, the quicker recovery is. Most kids can return to physical activity without any trouble once the pain and other symptoms go away. Although Sever's disease generally heals quickly, it can recur if long-term measures are not taken to protect the heel during a child's growing years. One of the most important is to make sure that kids wear proper shoes. Good quality, well-fitting shoes with shock-absorbent (padded) soles help to reduce pressure on the heel. The doctor may also recommend shoes with open backs, such as sandals or clogs, that do not rub on the back of the heel. Shoes that are heavy or have high heels should be avoided. Other preventive measures include continued stretching exercises and icing of the affected heel after activity.