Sever?s Disease is used to describe pain in the back of the heel that comes from an inflamed growth plate in your child?s heel. Sever?s Disease commonly occurs in children from the ages 8-15. The muscles and tendons become tight as the bones shift and grow. This causes pain when walking or participating in athletic events that require running and jumping.
Severs disease is caused by repetitive excessive force to the growing area of the heel bone, causing injury to this area. The calf muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius) are attached by the Achilles tendon to the calcaneus (heel bone). They exert a huge force during running , jumping and landing. In children, there is a growing area in the heel bone called the apophysis and is made of relatively weak cartilage. If there is excessive force at this relatively weak point damage occurs. This excess force can be caused by a number of factors. During the adolescent growth spurt the bones grow very quickly. The muscles do not grow out at the same rate as the bone grows and so can become very tight. The calf muscles generate huge forces when they are used to run, jump and land. This force is transmitted to the calcaneal apophysis (growth area). The gastrocnemius muscle spans both the ankle and knee joint. Tightness of this or any other muscles of the lower limb (hamstring or quadriceps) cause extra force at the growing (weak) area. In active children, who undertake a lot of exercise, the repetitive high force causes damage. If your child has poor biomechanics due to poor lower limb alignment (often caused by flat feet), the muscles of the lower limb have to work excessively hard and this can cause increased force at the tibial tubercle.
Sever condition causes pain at the back of the heel. The pain is increased with plantar flexion of the ankle (pushing down with the foot as if stepping on the gas), particularly against resistance. Sever condition also causes tenderness and swelling in the area of the pain.
The x-ray appearance usually shows the apophysis to be divided into multiple parts. Sometimes a series of small fragments is noted. Asymptomatic heels may also show x-ray findings of resporption, fragmentation and increased density. But they occur much less often in the normal foot. Pulling or ?traction? of the Achilles tendon on the unossified growth plate is a likely contributing factor to Sever?s disease. Excessive pronation and a tight Achilles and limited dorsiflexion may also contribute to the development of this condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest is best to allow healing .Only do as much exercise as able without causing pain. Many children can continue to play sports but if pain is severe then stopping the activity may be the only way to allow the pain to settle. The child might be able to do things that do not put pressure on the heel, such as swimming and cycling. Ice and cold therapy may be useful to reduce pain and swelling, particularly following activity or sport. The area should be iced until it feels cold not ?frozen?. Never apply ice directly onto the skin, as this may cause tissue damage. Medication. The following will help treat your child?s pain. Paracetamol (see bottle for instructions) Ibuprofen (see bottle for instructions). Exercises, perform foot and leg exercises to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles & tendons. Increase calf flexibility by doing calf stretches several times per day. Protect the heel, your shoes might need a heel lift or arch support. Select a shoe with good arch support and heel lift if possible. Take it one step at a time: gradually resume running and impact activities as symptoms allow.
The surgeon may select one or more of the following options to treat calcaneal apophysitis. Reduce activity. The child needs to reduce or stop any activity that causes pain. Support the heel. Temporary shoe inserts or custom orthotic devices may provide support for the heel. Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical therapy. Stretching or physical therapy modalities are sometimes used to promote healing of the inflamed issue. Immobilization. In some severe cases of pediatric heel pain, a cast may be used to promote healing while keeping the foot and ankle totally immobile. Often heel pain in children returns after it has been treated because the heel bone is still growing. Recurrence of heel pain may be a sign of calcaneal apophysitis, or it may indicate a different problem. If your child has a repeat bout of heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with your foot and ankle surgeon.