By Steve Borkowski PT , MPC , MTC , CEAS
What is Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s Disease is a commonly diagnosed impairment amongst active children while going through a growth spurt. This results from structures such as muscles and tendons pulling on the heel (the calcaneus bone). It is often described as a pain underneath the heel. This pain may or may not be accompanied by swelling at the heel. This occurs when the growth plate of the calcaneus becomes inflamed due to repeated stress. Pain and symptoms will likely be prominent when performing sports or sports-related activities such as running and jumping. Symptoms of Sever’s Disease will typically be more intense at the beginning of a sports season. It could be most evident when breaking in a new pair of cleats. This condition occurs more with boys of adolescent age than with girls. Due to differences in maturation, girls will typically encounter these symptoms at a younger age compared to their male counterparts.
Treatments for Fast Relief
Treatment of Sever’s Disease often begins with conservative management via rest, ice, OTC medication, changes in footwear, and stretching exercises. Temporarily limiting sporting activities such as running and jumping may help reduce pain levels. This should be the first step taken to aid recovery. Icing for 15-20 minutes following increases in pain or after performing sports activities can also be beneficial for pain relief.
When using ice or cold packs, protect the skin . You can do this by adding layers between your skin and the ice, such as a towel. Other options for temporary pain relief may be OTC medications or a change in footwear. OTC medications like ibuprofen, better known as Advil, and naproxen, better known as Aleve are commonly used for temporary pain relief, but will not provide long-lasting solutions to the underlying issue. Adding a gel insert to your shoe or changing to shoes with more cushion support can assist with relief during sports performance and exercise by absorbing some of the force when impacting the ground.
Treatments for Long Term
Of all possible methods for pain relief, the longest lasting and most effective treatment for Sever’s Disease is stretching. Some of the stretching you may want to incorporate into your daily routine include calf stretches with a staggered stance and weight shift towards the wall. Calf stretching with the foot against an inclined surface or calf stretching with a towel in a long sitting position. It is safe and effective to complete stretching exercises multiple times per day when you can fit them into your schedule. One last option would be to cast the heel or wear a walking boot to maintain a specific length of the calf muscles and tendons while the affected area heals.
No two people are the same. In Turn, no two person’s recovery from their Sever’s Disease symptoms will be the same either. Oftentimes, a combination of the treatments listed above provides the relief patients are seeking. Majority of the time this condition will resolve itself over time. If you have attempted conservative treatment options and are still dealing with pain and symptoms, you may want to reach out to a local healthcare provider.
Symptoms such as a fever above 101.4, severe pain/swelling/redness over the heel which does not go away after rest, or any injury to the specific area of the heel would be a good indication that to contact a medical professional about the condition. Sever’s Disease can be a recurring injury when a child is still growing, and it is important to continue recommended stretches and wear shoes with proper support after symptoms of Sever’s Disease have resolved. Once a child’s growth plate has solidified in the heel, however, Sever’s Disease is not likely to return.
By: Steve Borkowski PT , MPC , MTC , CEAS
Watch this YouTube Video from JOI : Ankle Resistance Band Exercises
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