Has your child complained of heel pain or difficulty walking? Sometimes growing pains are real and can be symptoms of a foot condition called Sever’s disease.
In Sever’s disease, the child’s heel bone grows too fast because of a growth spurt. Boys’ growth spurts tend to occur between ages 10 and 15, while those of girls appear earlier – between ages 8 and 13. Sometimes the growth of the heel bone outpaces surrounding tendons and muscles, and they are stretched too much to try to keep up with the bone.
Sever’s disease is not really a disease but a condition that results from overstretched tendons. Athletic activities including those involving a lot of jumping or running on hard surfaces can worsen the tendon pain, especially basketball and gymnastics.
Symptoms in addition to heel pain include:
- Swelling or redness where the tendons connect to the heel
- Tenderness or tightness at the back of the heel – squeezing increases this discomfort
- Difficulty walking – children often walk with a limp or on tip toes
- Heel pain that is eased by resting
Wearing soccer cleats or other stiff, hard-soled shoes can make the pain worse.
Sever’s Disease Usually Responds to Conservative Treatments
At Klein Foot and Ankle Specialists we urge youth who suffer from this pain to rest! Avoid playing any sport until the pain and swelling has subsided. Other treatments for Sever’s disease include:
- Applying ice packs several times a day to the inflamed area
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief – with a doctor’s approval
- Wearing supportive shoes with special inserts to lessen stress on the heel bone – this is especially important if the child has other foot problems like flat feet or high arches
- Adding heel cushion inserts to the inside of the shoe to better absorb stress
If necessary, a cast will serve to force the foot to rest. Physical therapy and carefully managed special stretching exercises can ease stiffness and pain.
When the child eventually returns to sports, be sure that playing time is increased gradually to avoid being reinjured.
The good news? Sever’s disease will go away once your child reaches her full size. Until then, avoid recurrence by making sure that they wear supportive shoes with plenty of shock absorption and does not over-train. Avoiding jumping and running on hard surfaces and maintaining a healthy weight can minimize pressure on the heels.
Consult a Professional with Any Foot or Heel Pain
Dr. Barry Klein and Dr. Debra Klein, board certified podiatrists have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating heel pain. We have convenient office hours at both our locations. Call our Pine Hill office at 856-783-3366 or our Florence office at 609-499-1181 or request an appointment via email. Addressing your child’s foot problem promptly sets the stage for a lifetime of pain-free foot and ankle health.