Children love to play and be active. They run, they jump, they spin and dance around—and sometimes they get hurt. Conditions like heel pain from Sever’s disease can stop a child from doing the things he or she loves by making it uncomfortable to run and play. Fortunately, you can help your child take care of the problem and get relief.
Don’t Worry, It’s Not Actually a Disease
Sever’s disease, despite its name, is not actually a disease. It’s an injury to a child’s heel bone that makes it painful to run, jump, or otherwise be active. See, growing children’s bones have a thin line near the ends where new tissue grows to make the bones bigger. This line is called the growth plate. In Sever’s disease, too much pressure on the back of your child’s foot inflames that growth plate and causes pain.
How does this happen? Well, normally it happens when your child is going through a growth spurt. The bones in the feet tend to grow before other areas of the body. Muscles and tendons can end up stretched out and tight, not quite keeping up with the bones’ growth. This stresses the bones and the tendons, particularly around the heel. Playing sports and running around puts even more pressure on the back of the foot, making the inflammation worse.
Risks and Signs of Sever’s Disease
Because this injury is a problem with the growth plate, it can only happen to children who are still growing. This generally means sometime between ages 8 and 15. Past that point, the feet are usually finished growing and the growth plate hardens, so it can’t be inflamed. Kids who are highly active and participate in athletics have the highest risks for it, too, since sports put so much additional pressure on the back of the foot.
If your child does develop Sever’s disease, the first sign will be heel pain that worsens when he or she is active. Resting will probably make your child’s foot feel better. You might notice limping when he or she tries to run or walk around. He or she may not want to participate in what would normally be their favorite activities because of the discomfort. Some shoes, particularly with stiff backs, might be uncomfortable as well. The back of the heel may be swollen and red, too.
Taking Care of the Heel Pain
Eliminating a condition like Sever’s disease can take a little time, but it is possible. A foot specialist like Yuko Miyazaki, DPM can diagnose the condition and help establish a treatment plan that fits your child’s needs. Eventually your child will outgrow the condition, getting rid of the problem, but the right children’s foot care can help your son or daughter deal with it before that happens.
Typically, this does mean rest—which might mean your child needs to take time away from sports and doing things that stress his or her heel bone. Icing the back of the foot can help alleviate swelling and inflammation there. Your child might need to change shoes or use orthotics to help support his or her feet better and reduce the pressure on the heels. Stretching and other exercises can help loosen up tightened tissues and reduce stress on the back of the foot that way.
Sever’s disease can be painful and make a normally active, playful child limp. No parent wants to see their son or daughter in pain. Thankfully you don’t have to wait for your child to outgrow this problem. The right foot care can relieve the discomfort and help your child get back to normal life. Let Yuko Miyazaki, DPM help your family today! Call our office in Berkeley, CA, at (510) 647-3744 for more information or to request an appointment.