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Sever's Disease- Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Posted on August 24 2023

Sever's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Sever's Disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, tends to mimic Achilles Tendinitis and is a common condition that affects active children and adolescents during their growth spurts. It tends to be very popular in impact/running sports such as gymnastics, running and soccer to name a few.  Despite its name, Sever's Disease is not an actual disease but rather a painful heel condition that occurs due to inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. Much like Osgood-Schlatters, this condition mainly affects children between the ages of 8 and 14, as their bodies are rapidly growing and their bones are undergoing changes. In this blog post, we will delve into the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of Sever's Disease, shedding light on how to manage and alleviate the discomfort it brings.

Symptoms of Sever's Disease

Sever's Disease primarily manifests through various symptoms that can affect a child's mobility and overall comfort. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  1. Heel Pain: One of the most evident signs of Sever's Disease is persistent pain in the back or bottom of the heel. This pain tends to worsen during physical activities like running, jumping, or walking for extended periods.

  2. Swelling and Redness: The affected heel might become swollen, tender, and red due to the inflammation of the growth plate.

  3. Limping or Difficulty Walking: Children with Sever's Disease often develop a limp or experience difficulty walking due to the discomfort and pain in the affected heel. They may present with a "tippy toe" gait to ease pain.

  4. Stiffness: Stiffness in the foot and heel, especially in the mornings or after periods of rest, can be indicative of Sever's Disease.

  5. Discomfort with Footwear: Shoes that do not provide adequate cushioning and support may exacerbate the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Causes of Sever's Disease

Several factors contribute to the development of Sever's Disease:

  1. Growth Spurts: During periods of rapid growth, bones and muscles may develop at different rates, leading to tension and stress on the growth plate in the heel bone.

  2. Repetitive Impact: Activities that involve frequent running, jumping, or high-impact sports can put excess strain on the heel, potentially triggering inflammation of the growth plate.

  3. Tight Muscles: Tight calf muscles can place additional tension on the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the heel bone, exacerbating the condition.

  4. Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper arch support and cushioning can contribute to the development of Sever's Disease.

Treatment Options for Sever's Disease

Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options to manage Sever's Disease and alleviate the associated discomfort:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: It's crucial to limit or avoid activities that exacerbate the pain, such as high-impact sports. Incorporating low-impact activities like swimming or cycling can help maintain fitness without aggravating the condition.

  2. Ice and Compression: Applying an ActiveWrap Foot Ice Wrap to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time can help reduce pain naturally without medications. This is always best to try conservative methods first before jumping straight to meds. 

  3. Stretching Exercises: Regular stretching of the calf muscles can help alleviate tension on the Achilles tendon and the growth plate. Gentle stretches should be performed both before and after physical activities.

  4. Footwear: Proper-fitting shoes with good arch support and cushioning are essential to reduce strain on the heel. Orthotic inserts may also provide additional support and alignment.

  5. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help manage pain and inflammation. However, it's important to consult a healthcare professional before administering any medication.

  6. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can guide your child through targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility, promoting overall healing.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing Sever's Disease involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments and proactive measures:

  1. Gradual Increase in Activity: Encourage children to gradually increase their activity levels rather than suddenly engaging in intense physical activities.

  2. Proper Warm-up and Cool-down: Emphasize the importance of warming up before exercise and cooling down afterward to prevent strain on the heel.

  3. Stretching Routine: Implement a regular stretching routine, focusing on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, to maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

  4. Supportive Footwear: Invest in well-fitting athletic shoes that provide ample arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption.

  5. Rest Days: Ensure that your child has regular rest days to allow their body to recover and prevent overuse injuries.

  6. Healthy Lifestyle: A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and proper hydration can support bone health and growth.

In conclusion, Sever's Disease, though common among growing children and adolescents, can be managed effectively with the right approach. By recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and implementing appropriate treatment and prevention strategies, parents and caregivers can help their children navigate this uncomfortable phase of growth with minimal pain and disruption. Through a combination of rest, targeted exercises, proper footwear, and lifestyle adjustments, the impact of Sever's Disease can be mitigated, allowing children to continue enjoying their active lifestyles while supporting their overall well-being.