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What Exactly Is Severs Disease?

Overview

Sever?s Disease (calcaneal aphophysitis) is not really a disease, but more a repetitious strain injury. This is the most common cause of kids heel pain seen at Podiatry Care. Active children in football, soccer, basketball, netball and tennis with this type of foot pain complain of pain in the region of the heel bone particularly after exercise. In severe cases, children will complain of pain during exercise as well. It is a frequent cause of heel pain in children, particularly in the very active child. It is most often seen in children between the ages of 8 to 15 years as the growth plate is not fully developed or calcified at this time.

Causes

Your child is most at risk for this condition when he or she is in the early part of the growth spurt in early puberty. Sever's disease is most common in physically active girls 8 years to 10 years of age and in physically active boys 10 years to 12 years of age. Soccer players and gymnasts often get Sever's disease, but children who do any running or jumping activity may also be at an increased risk. Sever's disease rarely occurs in older teenagers because the back of the heel has typically finished growing by 15 years of age.

Symptoms

The most prominent symptom of Sever's disease is heel pain which is usually aggravated by physical activity such as walking, running or jumping. The pain is localized to the posterior and plantar side of the heel over the calcaneal apophysis. Sometimes, the pain may be so severe that it may cause limping and interfere with physical performance in sports. External appearance of the heel is almost always normal, and signs of local disease such as edema, erythema (redness) is absent. The main diagnostic tool is pain on medial- lateral compression of the calcaneus in the area of growth plate, so called squeeze test. Foot radiographs are usually normal. Therefore the diagnosis of Sever's disease is primarily clinical.

Diagnosis

Sever?s disease can be diagnosed based on your history and symptoms. Clinically, your physiotherapist will perform a "squeeze test" and some other tests to confirm the diagnosis. Some children suffer Sever?s disease even though they do less exercise than other. This indicates that it is not just training volume that is at play. Foot and leg biomechanics are a predisposing factor. The main factors thought to predispose a child to Sever?s disease include a decrease in ankle dorsiflexion, abnormal hind foot motion eg overpronation or supination, tight calf muscles, excessive weight-bearing activities eg running.

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.

Prevention

As with all overuse injuries, it is important to warm up sufficiently before you exercise and warm down afterwards. You should build up any alterations in the intensity of your training gradually, and never continue exercising with weakened or fatigued muscles. Replace any worn or tattered shoes, as in this condition they become useless for absorbing shock and protecting the feet.
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