Sever's disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is the term used to describe irritation (inflammation) of the calcaneal apophysis. This condition often occurs before or during the growth spurt in boys and girls, or shortly after they begin a new activity. Sever's disease is common is running and jumping sports.
Sever's disease usually develops as a result of overuse and is common in active children between the ages of 8 to 12. Activities that involve running or jumping can cause undue stress on the calcaneal apophysis. This in turn leads to the development of microscopic damage to the calcaneal apophysis resulting in inflammation and pain. Poor flexibility of the calf muscles and of the Achilles tendon, overpronation (feet rolled in) and inappropriate footwear are some of the other factors that can cause Sever's disease.
The most obvious sign of Sever's disease is pain or tenderness in one or both heels, usually at the back. The pain also might extend to the sides and bottom of the heel, ending near the arch of the foot. A child also may have these related problems, swelling and redness in the heel, difficulty walking, discomfort or stiffness in the feet upon awaking, discomfort when the heel is squeezed on both sides, an unusual walk, such as walking with a limp or on tiptoes to avoid putting pressure on the heel. Symptoms are usually worse during or after activity and get better with rest.
A doctor or other health professional such as a physiotherapist can diagnose Sever?s disease by asking the young person to describe their symptoms and by conducting a physical examination. In some instances, an x-ray may be necessary to rule out other causes of heel pain, such as heel fractures. Sever?s disease does not show on an x-ray because the damage is in the cartilage.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment may consist of one or more of the following. Elevating the heel. Stretching hamstring and calf muscles 2-3 times daily. Using R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Foot orthotics. Medication. Physical therapy. Icing daily (morning). Heating therapy. Open back shoe are best and avoid high heel shoe. The Strickland Protocol has shown a positive response in patients with a mean return to sport in less than 3 weeks. Further research into the anatomical and biomechanical responses of this protocol are currently being undertaken.
With proper care, your child should feel better within 2 weeks to 2 months. Your child can start playing sports again only when the heel pain is gone. Your doctor will let you know when physical activity is safe.