What is Sever’s disease?
Sever’s disease is an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel, and is a very common foot complaint in growing children. It usually occurs during growth spurts between the ages of 8-12 when the bones are still maturing. Growth plates are weaker than normal bones, which means they are vulnerable to overuse or injury. When the leg bones grow, the Achilles tendon tightens up which can put pressure on the growth plate in the heel. The area is further irritated by repetitive stress from running, jumping or active sports. Symptoms include tenderness and pain, some swelling and even slight limping. Sever’s disease can usually be diagnosed from a physical examination.
How is it treated?
Sever’s disease will ultimately resolve by itself, so treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms by reducing the pain and the swelling. This generally involves limiting activities that put undue pressure on the heel. If the heel pain is severe, your doctor may advise a complete break from sport, but in milder cases a reduced participation can be sufficient. Treatment can also include:
- Orthotics – Customised shoe inserts to support your foot structure and relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon.
- Regular icing after physical activity, or after irritation.
- Pain relief medication.
- Self-monitoring – notice what activities cause pain and adjust your behaviour appropriately.
How long does it last?
Sever’s Disease can come and go over a period of time until the child is fully grown. It is not unusual for it to reoccur once sporting activities have increased. Keeping the pain under control with medication and appropriate footwear will ease the symptoms significantly. Once the growth plate has matured into solid bone, Sever’s disease will not return.
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