Heel pain is common in children. While it can occur after a specific injury, it is also commonly caused by Sever's disease, a type of overuse syndrome, like shin splints or Osgood-Schlatter?s
disease. Children with Sever's disease, which is also called calcaneal apophysitis, develop inflammation where the Achilles tendon inserts at the calcaneus, or heel bone. This inflammation causes
pain, which can vary depending on the type of activity your child is doing, and is generally worse after activity(such as running and jumping) and improves with rest. Sometimes squeezing the heel can
cause pain and occasionally it can be felt under the heel.
Sever?s is often present at a time of rapid growth in adolescent athletic children. At this time the muscles and tendons become tighter as the bones become larger. Between 8 - 15 years of age is the
usual onset of this condition.
Athletes with Sever?s disease are typically aged 9 to 13 years and participate in running or jumping sports such as soccer, football, basketball, baseball, and gymnastics. The typical complaint is
heel pain that develops slowly and occurs with activity. The pain is usually described like a bruise. There is rarely swelling or visible bruising. The pain is usually worse with running in cleats or
shoes that have limited heel lift, cushion, and arch support. The pain usually goes away with rest and rarely occurs with low-impact sports such as bicycling, skating, or swimming.
A physical exam of the heel will show tenderness over the back of the heel but not in the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. There may be tightness in the calf muscle, which contributes to tension on
the heel. The tendons in the heel get stretched more in patients with flat feet. There is greater impact force on the heels of athletes with a high-arched, rigid foot. The doctor may order an x-ray
because x-rays can confirm how mature the growth center is and if there are other sources of heel pain, such as a stress fracture or bone cyst. However, x-rays are not necessary to diagnose Sever?s
disease, and it is not possible to make the diagnosis based on the x-ray alone.
Non Surgical Treatment
In general, the goals for treatment include reducing the localized areas of inflammation. We recommend that patients utilize Ibuprofen every six to eight hours as needed. Stretching exercises on a
daily basis, as well as prior to activity is thought to be helpful as well. Following work-outs and increased activities, it may be helpful to apply ice over affected areas. Heel cups are also
available to provide cushion in shoes. In addition, for more severe symptoms, it may be helpful to refrain from sports and/or immobilize the area for a few weeks to help reduce the
It may take several weeks or months for the pain to completely stop. In most cases severs disease goes away on its own with a little rest and time. However if you ignore the pain and play through it,
the condition may get worse and may be more difficult to treat. When the pain is completely gone, you can slowly return to your previous level of activity. With future growth spurts the pain may
return therefore keep up with the stretches and follow the advice given.