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How to Avoid Sever’s Disease in Your Young Athletes

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It is a stark contrast to see a hulking professional athlete standing next to a young one, but both athletes face the same risk of physical injury during competition or practice. San Francisco 49er Jimmie Ward can surely attest to this fact. He has fractured his right foot twice and now wears a plastic clamp inside his cleat that wraps around Ward’s foot to protect it from further injury. Custom-made devices like that can help an array of conditions, including Sever’s disease.

Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, this condition is the most common cause of adolescent heel pain, especially for teens and preteens who are physically active. The condition results from variance in growth patterns between the heel bone (calcaneus) and its connective tissues. Symptoms include tenderness and pain in the back of the heel. These are worsened with physical activity and can be accompanied by a tightened calf muscle.

Two methods may prove to be helpful in avoiding Sever’s disease for your young athlete. First, a regular stretching regimen can improve flexibility in the soft tissues that would otherwise remain tight and be subjected to potential inflammation and tearing. Second, helping your son or daughter maintain a healthy bodyweight will reduce force on the growth plate in the back of the calcaneus. 

If preventing child heel pain proves to be difficult, there are measures that can be taken to reduce symptoms, including:

  • Icing and Cold Therapy – As always, avoid placing ice directly on skin (wrap it in a thin towel!).

  • Rest – Taking time away from activities that cause pain will help alleviate pain. To keep physical conditioning, have your child switch to a low-impact activity like swimming or cycling.

  • Stretching – If your son or daughter had not previously been following a stretching program, we can recommend one to reduce painful symptoms.

  • Orthotic Devices – Much like the device being used by Jimmie Ward, custom-made orthotics or insoles may help the condition. We can prescribe a pair to correct biomechanical issues that contribute to the condition.

When Sever’s disease is causing heel pain for your adolescent son or daughter, McDowell Podiatry Group is ready to step in and help. We offer extensive knowledge and effective treatment plans to put your child’s pain to rest. Call our Carmichael, CA office at (916) 961-3434 or simply use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

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