Sever's disease is a term used to describe inflammation of the calcaneal apophysis which occurs in children and adolescents. Sever first described the condition in 1912. Further studies have suggested that the condition is due to repeated 'microtrauma' at the site of the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the apophysis of the heel, often as result of sporting activities. The disorder can be classified among the general osteochondrosis syndromes such as Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Sever?s disease is caused by repetitive tension and/or pressure on the growth center of the heel. Running and jumping place a large amount of pressure on the heels and can cause pain. Children with Sever?s may limp or have an altered gait due to the pain. Risk factors for Sever's include tight calf muscles, weak ankle muscles, and alignment abnormalities at the foot and ankle. Sever?s can also result from wearing shoes without sufficient heel padding or arch support.
Signs and symptoms of Sever?s disease include heel pain can be in one or both heels, and it can come and go over time. Many children walk or run with a limp, they may walk on their toes to avoid pressure on their heels. Heel pain may increase with running or jumping, wearing stiff, hard shoes (ex. soccer cleats, flip-flops) or walking barefoot. The pain may begin after increasing physical activity, such as trying a new sport or starting a new sports season.
Sever disease is most often diagnosed clinically, and radiographic evaluation is believed to be unnecessary by many physicians, but if a diagnosis of calcaneal apophysitis is made without obtaining radiographs, a lesion requiring more aggressive treatment could be missed. Foot radiographs are usually normal and the radiologic identification of calcaneal apophysitis without the absence of clinical information was not reliable.
Non Surgical Treatment
Sever?s disease will go away on its own with rest or after heel bone growth is complete, usually within 2 to 8 weeks after the heel pain or discomfort appears. Sever?s disease is not expected to cause long-term problems, though symptoms may linger for up to several years in severe cases. Certain conservative care measures may be helpful in treating this health problem, including avoiding activities that provoke pain or discomfort, elevating the leg while at rest, performing hamstring and calf muscle stretches two to three times per day, undergoing physical therapy, using cold therapy, using an elastic wrap or compression stocking, Avoiding footwear with heel elevation, toe spring, and toe taper, and instead favoring footwear that?s completely flat and widest at the ends of the toes. More aggressive treatment measures, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen), steroid injections, and surgery, may be indicated in certain cases. Addressing the footwear component of this health problem is an important part of a well-rounded Sever?s disease treatment plan. Optimal footwear for preventing or treating this problem is flat, wide (widest at the ends of the toes), and flexible in the sole. Open-back footwear (such as certain Crocs models) may be particularly helpful for kids and teens with Sever?s disease.
Sever's disease may be prevented by maintaining good joint and muscle flexibility in the years leading up to, and during, their growth spurts (eg girls 8 to 10, boys 10 to 12). Foot arch problems such as flat feet should be addressed after the age of five if they don't appear to be self-correcting. If you are concerned, please ask your health practitioner. The most important factor is the amount of weight-bearing exercise your child is currently performing. Finally, LISTEN To Your Child! If your child is suffering heel pain between the ages of 8 to 12, suspect Sever's disease until proven otherwise. Seek the professional opinion of your foot practitioner regarding its diagnosis and subsequent management.