Does your child complain of heel pain? Are they withdrawing from activity?
Coming into the middle of the sporting season practitioners often see children presenting with “heel pain” and most of the time this heel pain is Sever’s Disease!
What is Sever’s disease?
Sever’s is a common painful inflammation of the growth plate which the Achilles attaches to. It is noticed around periods of ‘growth spurts’ between 8-14 year olds due to the heel bone not fully developing until approximately 15, active children between these ages put unwanted repetitive stress through this attachment point during physical activity. This stress irritates the growth plate, thus resulting in pain.
Overuse and stress to the heel is the primary cause of Sever’s. ‘Growth spurt’ periods also put children at more risk due to bones growing faster than the attaching muscles, resulting in the Achilles tendon pulling tightly on the growth plate, causing pain and inflammation.
Who is at Risk?
Children that are active in sports that involve running or jumping are at more risk due to heel stresses. Additional mechanical issues like feet that ‘roll in’ (pronate) as well as poor footwear choices can both exacerbate this condition.
What to look for?
Your child might have pain, swelling and redness along the bottom of their heel; particularly when the sides are squeezed. Some children feel the need to withdraw from sporting activities due to discomfort.
How is it managed?
It is important to have an assessment with a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist. Treatment should be sought after earlier rather than later as Sever’s is progressive. Simple RICE management should be started to reduce pain and inflammation – This involves:
- R est avoid activity that cause irritation and stress to the heel.
- I ce the area
- C ompression bandages help reduce inflammation.
- E levating the foot above the level of the heart.
Practitioners may introduce a treatment plan of physical therapy to promote healing and range of motion. Everyday and sporting footwear changes may also be made so that the foot is supported appropriately during physical activity.
To reduce risk factors such as ‘rolling in’ taping or orthotic therapy may be used to reduce this motion and stabilise the Achilles region.