Growing pains? Are these real or myth? If your child has heel pain and difficulty walking, he or she may be experiencing a heel bone that grows too fast during a growth spurt. Sever’s disease occurs when the muscles and tendons stretch tightly because they don’t grow fast enough to keep up with heel bone growth.
Symptoms of Sever’s Disease
Sever’s disease is not really a disease. Rather, it’s a result of overstretched tendons because of a growth spurt. The resulting tendon pain can be worsened by athletic activities especially those involving a lot of running and jumping on hard surfaces: think basketball, soccer or gymnastics. When the tendon is already stretched too far because of growth, these types of exercise can lead to swelling and pain where the tendons attach to the heel.
When Sever’s disease most commonly strikes depends on the child’s gender. Boys have later growth spurts and the incidence of Sever’s disease usually occurs between ages 10 and 15, while in girls it happens between ages 8 and 13. Symptoms include:
- Pain, redness or swelling in the heel.
- Tightness and tenderness at the back of the heels that worsens when squeezed.
- Heel pain that gets worse after jumping or running but feels better after resting. Wearing hard, stiff shoes like soccer cleats can aggravate the pain.
- Difficulty walking.
- Walking on tip toes or with a limp.
Treating Sever’s Disease
Dr. Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM recommends rest as the best treatment, avoiding sports until the pain eases. Once he or she returns to the sport, build up playing time gradually.
Other treatments include:
- Apply ice packs to the inflamed area.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve pain.
- Use heel cushion inserts to absorb stress.
- Supportive shoes and inserts can reduce heel bone stress, especially if your child has other foot problems like high arches or flat feet.
- Stretching exercises or even physical therapy.
We may recommend a case to force the heel to rest.
Preventing Sever’s Disease
Sever’s Disease won’t return after your child reaches her full size. Until then, if your child is very active, this painful condition can recur.
The following simple steps can help prevent its recurrence:
- Always wear supportive shoes with lots of shock absorption.
- Warn your child against over-training and insist on plenty of rest especially if he or she is experiencing heel pain.
- Do gentle calf, heel and hamstring stretches regularly.
- Avoid running and jumping on hard surfaces.
- Maintain a healthy weight to minimize pressure on the heels.
Consult a Professional for Recurrent Heel Pain
Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience with Sever’s disease and other pediatric foot conditions. Bring your child in for a comprehensive foot exam. Call us at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Don’t wait to find a solution to your child’s heel pain.