Sever’s disease is a common affliction of the back of the heel that is brought on by stress on that area during childhood and adolescence. The dynamics of Sever’s disease, named after the doctor who first described it in 1912, makes logical sense when you look at the basic conditions that create the disease
Bone growth and intense physical activity are the two basic conditions that create (or can create) Sever’s disease. The back of the heel is the location of growth for the heel bone. This occurs at a site known as the bone plate or growth plate. When we are fully grown, the bone plate closes over and becomes solid bone. But when we are young and growing, a growth plate is weaker than solid bone.
Children, of course, are very physically active. Sever’s disease, it follows, is most often associated with athletic children, especially during a period in which they participate in competitive sports and even more specifically when that sports that require wearing cleats – football, sometimes soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other sports – which can put more stress on a child’s heel due to the hardness of the shoe.
Simply because girls and boys mature at different ages, the onset of Sever’s disease differs from gender to gender. It can occur younger or older than these ages, but the most common age for cases is from ages 5-12 for all children and from ages 8-10 for girls and ages 10-12 for boys.
Symptoms of Sever’s Disease
The symptoms of Sever’s disease, which is also called
calcaneal apophysitis, revolve around pain, swelling, and redness in the heel.
Specifically, the symptoms include:
- Painful heels, especially when walking or running
- Redness of the heel and ankle
- Swelling of heel and/or ankle
- Heat coming from the swollen, red area
- Difficulty walking
- Tendency to favor the heel by walking on the ball of your foot or on your toes
First, be aware that Sever’s disease is almost always a temporary condition that is relieved by rest with elevation, with occasional applications of an ice pack and with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen and/or ibuprofen.
- Rest the heel or heels. Stay off your feet for a while.
- Keep the feet elevated as you rest.
cold packs or ice, as needed to reduce pain, heat, and swelling
- .Wear softer shoes.
- Wear insoles that cushion your foot.
- Discuss temporary braces with your physician.
- In severe cases, discuss the possibility of a cast to immobilize the area.
Rest assured that Sever’s disease which is associated with childhood and adolescence, is generally a short-term condition corrected by rest, a change of footwear, and over-the-counter medications. By definition, it does not carry over into adulthood because the heel bone has stopped growing by then, and the growth plate is replaced by solid bone.