Sever’s disease is caused when the growth plate in the heel of the foot is injured. This disease occurs when the bones grow faster than the muscles and tendons in the heel making the tissues tight and unable to move normally. When pressure is applied to the heel, the tendons and muscles can become damaged causing Sever’s disease.
This disease happens to young children, typically between the ages of 8 and 12. Though this disease can affect any child, children who are involved in certain sport activities such as gymnastics have an increased risk of developing the disease. Out of the many parts found on and in the body, the foot is the first part to reach full size and stop growing which usually happens around the age of 15.
Sever’s disease is most prevalent after a child has begun heavy activities including sports. The heel will be painful and the child may limp or walk on their tip toes. Stretching the tendons at the heel will cause the pain to increase especially when running or jumping.
Luckily for both parents and children, Sever’s disease is not permanent and should heal within a short amount of time. However, treating the heel is important so that the child can return to their normal activities without discomfort. Treatment includes resting the heel, some home therapy and stretching exercises.
Any child who has discomfort or pain in the heel during or after physical activities should either limit or eliminate any activities that cause the discomfort. Ice should be applied to the heel for 15 to 20 minutes at least three times daily. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve some of the pain associated with Sever’s disease.
Stretching exercises are always recommended before anyone (child or adult) performs any physical activities but is extremely important for children suffering from this disease. Stretching the muscles in the back and front of the legs several times a day can help with the recovery of the heel. Stretching the muscles is a positive habit to enforce with children especially those who are athletic.
Children with Sever’s disease should not go without appropriate footwear. Shoes need to have proper support especially in the heel and sole area and if possible, children should not run for long periods of time on hard surfaces. For severe cases of Sever’s disease, a physician may prescribe arch supports for the affected heel.
Children with Sever’s disease should not participate fully in certain sporting activities until approved by their doctor. After recovery from this disease, children should remember to stretch and apply ice to the heels after activities to help prevent a reoccurrence. Recovery from Sever’s disease can take up to several months but most children are able to go on with their normal routines without suffering any long-term effects.