Children's Heel Pain from Sever's Disease

We want our children to be able to play and have fun with each other without suffering from foot pain. Having problems with heel pain can be very frustrating for them, so treatment is important in getting them past this difficult time. This is especially true if they enjoy participating in sports; Sever’s disease is more common in active kids.

What Is Sever’s Disease?

When children feel heel pain, the most likely reason is because of Sever’s disease. This is a condition that is found in young people who are going through a growth spurt. It is even more present in children who are physically active or play sports. Symptoms of Sever’s disease include difficulty with walking and standing for long periods of time. Your child might exhibit signs of an abnormal gait, because of the pain they are feeling in their heel. They might also have red or swollen feet, especially on and around the heel area. These symptoms are usually exacerbated by physical activity and feel better when your child is at rest. Thankfully, since it is a growth plate condition the symptoms will completely disappear after your child is done growing.

What Are the Causes of Sever’s Disease?

Boy measuring heightSever’s disease (calcaneal apophysis) is caused by strain on the growth plate in the heel. When your body is growing, sometimes the bones in the foot and heel grow faster than the muscles and tendons in the leg.  Unfortunately this puts more pressure on that growth plate, which can lead to inflammation. Growing too fast isn’t the only risk factor. Anything that puts more stress on the calcaneus can increase the chances of developing Sever’s disease. This might include playing sports that involve a lot of jumping and running, such as track, soccer, basketball, and anything else high-impact. Being overweight can also add to this problem, because of the extra pounds your feet have to carry. Lastly, having an overpronated gait (flatfeet) can worsen this condition, because the absence of arches causes your foot bones to absorb more of the shock of walking and running.

Getting Treatment

Thankfully treatment is usually simple and conservative. Nobody wants their child to be in pain, so the main goal of treating Sever’s disease is to ease discomfort. First of all, you should have your child discontinue the activity that is causing the pain. If running is too much for them right now, have them switch to swimming until their growth spurt is over. Cross-training can be very good for them and their sport. Different stretches can help strengthen those leg muscles that haven’t finished growing, especially calf raises. You should ice the area that is inflamed, to reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may also prescribe orthotics or medication to help with their discomfort as well, but never give your child a new medication without first consulting with your family podiatrist.

When to Call for Help

If your child complains of heel pain, or you have more questions about treating Sever’s disease, call Dr. Robert Parker at (281) 497-2850 to schedule an appointment at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston. Our team is here to help your entire family have healthy and happy feet.