Addressing Severs Disease

Overview

This is a condition that is quite often misdiagnosed as growing pains this generally affects boys more than it may affects girls, especially between the ages of 9 and 15. This is a common disease in children that play the following sports. Soccer. Football. Basketball. Hockey. However it is not limited just to these sports, nor is it simply a pre-season type condition related to fitness. Sever?s Disease is common and although it does not sound good there is no need to panic as it is not something you can catch or incurable. Children have a growth plate in the heel bone, which at puberty becomes solid and forms part of the heel, prior to puberty this can cause pain especially if the child?s foot rolls inwards or outwards too much, this can cause increased stress on this growth plate and therefore causes pain.

Causes

There are many contributing factors that cause strain across the growth plate, making your child prone to developing Sever?s disease. These include repeated minor trauma to the growth plate from running or jumping sports, tight calf or hamstring muscles, rapid growth spurts can lead to the leg muscles becoming tight, increasing tension on the growth plate, tight Achilles tendon, the Achilles tendon attaches to the back of the heel adjacent to the growth plate, poor foot posture, may increase the strain on the growth plate, footwear with a very low heel pitch (eg soccer boots), unsupportive or unstable footwear with poor shock absorption at the heel, running or playing sport on hard surfaces.

Symptoms

Unilateral or bilateral heel pain. Heel pain during physical exercise, especially activities that require running or jumping or are high impact. Pain is often worse after exercise. A tender swelling or bulge on the heel that is painful on touch. Limping. Calf muscle stiffness first thing in the morning.

Diagnosis

A doctor can usually tell that a child has Sever's disease based on the symptoms reported. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will probably examine the heels and ask about the child's activity level and participation in sports. The doctor might also use the squeeze test, squeezing the back part of the heel from both sides at the same time to see if doing so causes pain. The doctor might also ask the child to stand on tiptoes to see if that position causes pain. Although imaging tests such as X-rays generally are not that helpful in diagnosing Sever's disease, some doctors order them to rule out other problems, such as fractures. Sever's disease cannot be seen on an X-ray.

Non Surgical Treatment

Treatment aim is to lessen the load on the insertion of the Achilles tendon, along with pain relief if necessary. This can be achieved by modifying/reducing activity levels. Shoe inserts or heel raises. Calf stretches. Avoiding barefoot walking. Strapping or taping the foot to reduce movement. Orthotic therapy if due to biomechanical causes. Other treatment includes icing of the painful area to reduce swelling, pain medication if necessary and immobilisation of the affected limb in severe or long standing cases.

Surgical Treatment

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.

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