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Sever's Disease: What Every Parent Should Know About This Common Cause of Heel Pain in Children

Is your child complaining of heel pain, especially after starting a new sports season? It could be Sever's Disease, a common condition affecting the heel in growing children. As a parent, it's essential to understand what Sever's Disease is, its causes, and how you can help your child manage the pain and prevent future occurrences.

What is Sever's Disease?

Sever's Disease, medically known as calcaneal apophysitis, is an inflammation of the growth plate at the back of the heel bone (calcaneus). The growth plate is a area of cartilage at the end of a bone where growth occurs. In children, this area is particularly vulnerable to injury because the bones are still developing and the tendons and muscles are often tighter than the bone's growth.

What Can Cause Sever's Disease?

Several factors can contribute to the development of Sever's Disease in children:

Rapid Growth Spurts: During growth spurts, bones often grow faster than muscles and tendons. This leads to tightness and pulling on the growth plate, causing inflammation and pain.

Overuse: Repetitive stress on the heel from high-impact activities can inflame the growth plate. This is especially common in youth sports that involve running and jumping, such as soccer, basketball, and gymnastics.

Biomechanical Factors: Children with flat feet or high arches are more prone to Sever's Disease due to the altered mechanics of their feet and the additional strain placed on the Achilles tendon and heel.

Ill-fitting Shoes: Wearing shoes that don't provide enough cushioning and support can exacerbate the condition.

Tips to Treat Sever's Disease

If your child is experiencing heel pain, there are several things you can do to help:

Rest and Modify Activity: Encourage your child to take a break from high-impact activities that aggravate the pain. Modifying or temporarily stopping sports participation may be necessary to allow the heel to heal.

Supportive Footwear: Ensure your child wears well-cushioned, supportive shoes that are appropriate for their sport. Avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes with minimal support.

Stretching Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises for the calf muscles can help alleviate tightness and reduce the pull on the heel. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times on each leg.

Orthotics and Padding: Consider custom orthotics which can provide additional support and cushioning for the heel. Heel cups or heel lifts may also help by reducing stress on the growth plate.

Ice and Pain Relief: Applying ice to the heel for 15-20 minutes after activity can help reduce pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can also be used under guidance from your pediatrician.

When to Seek Professional Advice

If your child's heel pain persists or worsens despite home treatment, it's important to seek professional evaluation. A podiatrist specializing in pediatric foot conditions can provide a definitive diagnosis and recommend a tailored treatment plan.

At The Foot Doctors, our team is experienced in treating Sever's Disease and other pediatric foot conditions. We can work with your child to not only alleviate their current pain but also develop strategies to prevent future occurrences, ensuring they can continue to enjoy their favorite activities pain-free.

Key Takeaways

  • Sever's Disease is a common cause of heel pain in growing children, especially those involved in sports.

  • Growth spurts, overuse, and biomechanical factors can contribute to the development of Sever's Disease.

  • Rest, supportive footwear, stretching, and ice can help manage symptoms at home.

  • Persistent heel pain should be evaluated by a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • As a parent, being informed about conditions like Sever's Disease allows you to take proactive steps to support your child's foot health. With the right approach and professional guidance when needed, your child can overcome this common growing pain and continue to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle.

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