Sever’s Disease is not actually a disease but an overuse injury of the heel bone in growing adolescents. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain in adolescents.
Causes of Sever’s Disease
Growing bones are different from mature bones. They have growth plates from which bones grow longer and separate bony areas, called apophyses, where tendons attach. Apophyses are open areas in the bone and are a “weak link” making these areas more prone to injury. As the child matures these areas fuse together and become a solid bone.
Anyone or more of the following factors can contribute to Sever’s Disease:
- Inflammation of the apophysis in the heel bone (calcaneus) in an adolescent child.
- Repetitive stress and impact on the heel bone from running, jumping, and/or being active causes inflammation and pain.
- Most often seen in active adolescents around the beginning of a growth spurt and occurs in both boys and girls.
- Adolescents who participate in sports involving running, twisting, and jumping – such as basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, tennis, or gymnastics.
- Heel pain that increases with exercise and decrease with rest
- Pain that is not related to an acute injury, such as a fall
- Swelling or tenderness around the heel
- Limping after exercise or activity
- Changes in sports form or technique
- Decreased interest in practice
Taking a break from symptom provoking activity until the pain goes away reduces stress to the area as it heals. This may take several weeks. Gradually resume
activity as pain allows.
Ice can help with pain and swelling. Use up to 3-4 times per day for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to place a thin towel or cloth between the ice and skin.
Improving Achilles tendon flexibility and
core strengthening can help decrease
symptoms. Encourage your child to switch
to activities that don’t involve jumping
or running, such as swimming or cycling,
until symptoms improve.
Your physician may refer you to a physical therapist for specific rehabilitation exercises to help you return to your sport.
Cushions inserted into shoes may help absorb impact, relieving stress on the heel and ankle.