Footcare Scotland - The Foot & Ankle Experts
plantar fasciitis

Sever’s disease- Heel pain in children

Is your child active in sport and complaining of pain in their heel?  If so, it is most likely that they have developed Sever’s disease.

What causes it?

Sever’s disease (also called calcaneal apophysitis) occurs when the growth plate in the heel bone (calcaneus) is put under excessive traction force.   Your child may complain of a dull, achey type pain affecting one, or both, heels.  Symptoms are generally aggravated by activities such as walking, running or jumping.  However, your child may also complain of pain after rest.  You may notice them limping or running awkwardly.  It usually occurs during a growth spurt, and is most common between the ages of 10-15 for boys and 8-13 for girls.

It is common in children who present with Sever’s disease, that they have tight calf muscles.  Sever’s disease is caused by increased pulling force of the Achilles tendon on the back of the heel bone, which leads to inflammation of the growth plate.

How is it treated?

Firstly, Sever’s disease is a self-limiting condition.  This means that it will eventually get better; but hat’s not to say you shouldn’t seek help!  Reduce the amount of activity that aggravates their symptoms; sometimes complete rest is required.  Use ice packs after sport to help manage pain (make sure you wrap the ice pack in a damp tea towel to avoid ice burns).  Start stretching your child’s calf muscles; this should be done twice daily.  Make sure your child is wearing supportive, cushioned shoes with a small heel raise, such as a running shoe.  However, be aware that some running shoes are very flat (like Nike Free) and should be avoided; as should ballet pumps and some popular football type trainers!

If your child’s symptoms fail to improve/resolve after a short time following the above advice- then book an appointment with one of our Podiatrists.  They will be able to diagnose the problem and the underlying cause, and offer a suitable treatment plan.  This may involve some more stretching, heel raises, gel heel cups or special medical insoles (orthoses) to help reduce the pull of the Achilles tendon on the heel bone.