Despite its name, sever’s disease is not so much a disease as it is a painful growth-related condition in children. It is medically referred to as calcaneal apophysitis, and is often referred to as ‘growing pains’ at the back of the heel. It describes the inflammation and abnormal tension (pull) on the heel bone and its growth plate in kids, particularly between the ages of 8 and 14.
Growth plates are located on the ends of growing bones and will eventually turn into solid bone when we reach full maturity. As we grow, our bones, muscles and tissues all grow and lengthen too. In Sever’s, the pull from Achilles tendon (which connects the calves to the back of the heel) causes the nearby growth plate to become irritated and inflamed, and hence painful.
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There are various influences that can damage and irritate to the growth plate at the back of the heel and cause painful symptoms. These include:
Symptoms typically occur during a period of growth and include:
The key to managing sever’s is not only to settle the painful symptoms, but also to treat the cause and reduce the tension at the back of the heel where the growth plate is. Initially, the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) principles can be used to manage painful symptoms. Following this, treatment may include:
Your podiatrist will create the best management plan based on your symptoms and regular activities. It is important to listen to your body and stop if an activity begins to cause you pain to maximise your recovery.