Heel pain is a rather common condition that we treat at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. As with certain issues, there are several potential causes. When it comes to younger patients, we find that adolescents offer suffer from a medical condition known as Sever’s disease. Also known as calcaneal apophysis, this can happen in either one or both feet and is related to the physical growth process.

Sever’s Disease Cause and Symptoms

children's heel painThe cause behind Sever’s is essentially a matter of the heel bone (calcaneus) growing faster than the tissue, particularly the Achilles tendon, that attaches to it. This creates a situation where the connected muscles and tendons are overstretched and quite tight. The situation is exacerbated when physical activity enters the picture.

Calcaneal apophysis generally is experienced by girls between the ages of 10 and 15 and by boys between the ages of 8 and 13.  Excess stress and pressure can result not only from sports, but also excessive standing, poor-fitting footwear, and even simply overuse.

The primary symptoms for the condition include:

  • Heel pain.
  • Limping or difficulty with walking.
  • Stiffness and discomfort upon waking in the morning.
  • Redness and/or swelling in the heel area.

Generally, the symptoms are worse during or after physical activity and then become better after the child has rested for a while.

Treating Sever’s Disease

Given that this condition is caused by growth, treatment methods are centered on relieving the symptoms and not curing the “disease.” (Despite the name, this does not actually constitute a disease.)

Treatment for Sever’s often entails:

  • Reduced Physical Activity – Any activity that causes pain needs to be either limited or stopped altogether.
  • Support for Affected Heels – The custom orthotic devices that our office provides can provide additional support for the heel, which can reduce pain and inflammation in the area.
  • Medication – To further help lower the levels of pain and inflammation, we may recommend or prescribe the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen. If you are going to provide this to your son or daughter yourself, be sure to consult with us for appropriate dosages.
  • Physical Therapy – Therapeutic modalities and stretching may be useful in promoting healing for inflamed tissue.
  • Immobilization – In severe cases, we may prescribe the use of a cast to keep the affected area immobile and promote healing.

There is not necessarily a way to “prevent” Sever’s from happening, but certain actions can be taken to reduce the risk of heel pain associated with the condition. Having a healthy weight helps to keep excess pressure off an affected heel. Supportive, well-constructed shoes—especially those that are appropriate for specific sports or other such activities—can also help to prevent the respective symptoms. Limiting activities that place high-impact on the heels is also a good idea.

The good news when it comes to Sever’s disease is that your son or daughter will eventually grow out of the condition without any long-term damage.

Pediatric Foot Care in Carmichael, CA

When your child needs expert pediatric foot care in the Sacramento, CA community, McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is here to help. We treat patients of all ages, so schedule an appointment today and allow us to provide effective treatment to alleviate the heel pain your son or daughter is experiencing. Call us at (916) 961-3434 or use our online form to contact our Carmichael, CA office.

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