Sever's Disease

Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is a heel injury that often occurs in growing children and adolescents. It is an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel, caused by repetitive stress to the heel. The stress occurs most often during growth spurts when bones, muscles, and tendons are changing rapidly. Children who participate in sports, especially those in which running and jumping are involved, are especially vulnerable to this condition. On the other hand, even children who do not participate in athletics can experience this issue.

Description

Children and adolescents’ bones have a growth plate, which are areas of cartilage near the ends of their bones. When the child is fully grown, the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone. Until then, the tendons and ligaments near the growth plates are weak and vulnerable to trauma. Sever’s disease affects the growth plate at the back of the heel where bone growth occurs. Stress on that area from running, jumping, and other activities can cause inflammation and pain. 

Symptoms

Sever’s disease is more common in boys, seeing as they typically have later growth spurts. They tend to get the condition between the ages of 10 and 15. Girls with the condition will usually get it between ages 8 and 13. Symptoms may include:

  • Trouble walking

  • Pain, swelling, or redness in one or both heels

  • Walking or running with a limp or on tiptoes

  • Tenderness or tightness in the back of the heel that feels worse when squeezed

  • Heel pain that worsens after running or jumping, but feels better after rest

Symptoms of Sever’s disease usually fade after a few months. The condition does not cause any long-term foot problems. 

Treatment

Stretching and strengthening exercises with the help of a physical therapist can aid in the treatment of Sever’s disease. It may be helpful for the child to cut down on sports until the pain subsides. Supportive shoes and inserts can also help to reduce stress on the heel bone. Ice packs are also beneficial. 

Peak Physical Therapy

Our South Shore Physical Therapy practice specializes in physical therapy including many specialty programs including return-to-sports, vestibular, pelvic health, post-concussion, aquatics, and more. Locations include Norwell, MA, Scituate, MA, Quincy, MA, Hanover, MA, Pembroke, MA, and Braintree, MA. Our specialized programs combined with state-of-the-art facilities allow us to meet the unique needs of our local patients and achieve the fastest results. If you are unsure whether this type of treatment can help you, we offer a no-obligation FREE injury screening. Click here for more information.

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