Thersa Cockrill
To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
Treating Severs Disease
Overview


Pain in the heel of a child's foot, typically brought on by some form of injury or trauma, is sometimes Sever's Disease. The disease often mimics Achilles tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon attached to the back of the heel. A tight Achilles tendon may contribute to Sever's Disease by pulling excessively on the growth plate of the heel bone. This condition is most common in younger children and is frequently seen in the active soccer, football or baseball player. Sport shoes with cleats are also known to aggravate the condition. Treatment includes calf muscle stretching exercises, heel cushions in the shoes, and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Consult your physician before taking any medications.


Causes


The most common of the Sever?s disease causes is when the heel bone grows more rapidly than the muscles and tendons in the leg. The muscles and tendons become tight and put additional stress on the growth plate in the heel. When this happens, the growth plate begins to swell, becomes tender, and the child will essentially begin to feel one or more Sever?s disease symptoms. It can occur in any child as they grow, but there are some common Sever?s disease causes and risk factors that make a child more prone to the condition. They include participation in sports and other activities that put pressure on the heel, such as basketball, track, and gymnastics. A pronated foot, which makes the Achilles tendon tight, increasing the strain on the growth plate of the heel. An arch that is flat or high, affecting the angle of the heel. Short leg syndrome, when one leg is shorter than the other, causing the shorter leg to pull more on the Achilles tendon in order to reach the ground. Obesity puts extra weight on the growth plate, which can cause it to swell.


Symptoms


This is a condition that affects the cartilage growth plate and the separate island of growing bone on the back of the heel bone. This growth plate is called the physeal plate. The island of growing bone is called the apophysis. It has the insertion attachment of the Achilles tendon, and the attachment of the plantar fascia. This island of bone is under traction from both of these soft tissue tendon and tendon-like attachments.


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


First, your child should cut down or stop any activity that causes heel pain. Apply ice to the injured heel for 20 minutes 3 times a day. If your child has a high arch, flat feet or bowed legs, your doctor may recommend orthotics, arch supports or heel cups. Your child should never go barefoot. If your child has severe heel pain, medicines such as acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (some brand names. Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) may help.


Exercise


Exercises that help to stretch the calf muscles and hamstrings are effective at treating Sever's disease. An exercise known as foot curling, in which the foot is pointed away from the body, then curled toward the body in order to help stretch the muscles, has also proven to be very effective at treating Sever's disease. The curling exercise should be done in sets of 10 or 20 repetitions, and repeated several times throughout the day.
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