Sever’s Disease

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What Is Sever’s Disease?

Sever's disease (also known as Calcaneal Apophysitis) affects children. It occurs when the heel bone grows faster than the tendons that support it.

In teens with Sever’s disease, the Achilles tendon in the ankle can begin to tear away from the heel.

This can cause:

  • Heel pain
  • Swelling
  • Walking problems

Sever's disease risk factors

Both males and females can get Sever's disease. It's most common in children between the ages of 8 and 14.

Young athletes at risk for Sever's disease include those that play sports that involve:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Placing added weight or pressure on the heel

Sever's disease complications

Sever's disease goes away by itself when the other structures of the foot catch up to the growth in the heel.

It's rare for children with Sever's disease to need a cast.

Make an appointment for Sever's disease

To make an appointment or learn more about Sever's disease, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Sever's Disease Symptoms and Diagnosis

Sever's disease — a painful heel problem — affects children, most often between 8 and 14 years old.

Sever's disease symptoms

Contact your child’s doctor or a UPMC Sports Medicine specialist if he or she has any of the following Sever’s disease symptoms:

  • Pain that gets worse with activity.
  • Heel pain.
  • Tenderness when touched.
  • Swelling.

Sever's disease lasts about two to three months. In some people, Sever's disease can return over several years.

Sever's disease diagnosis

Doctors diagnose Sever's disease by assessing a child's:

  • Activity levels
  • Symptom history
  • Physical exam results

Your doctor may perform the squeeze test. He or she will squeeze the back of the heel from both sides to see if this causes pain.

You may also need an x-ray or MRI to rule out other causes of heel pain.

Make an appointment for Sever's disease symptoms and diagnosis

To make an appointment or learn more about Sever's disease symptoms, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about Sever's disease tests

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Sever's Disease Treatment

Sever's disease occurs when a child's heel bone grows faster than the tendons that support it.

The best treatment for Sever's disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is the R.I.C.E. method:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Other treatment options for managing heel pain from Sever's disease include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Supportive shoes or inserts.
  • Gentle stretching exercises.
  • A cast, in rare cases.

Your child may need to stay on the sidelines for a while, especially if their sport involves impact to the feet.

Sever's disease recovery

Stretches are crucial in the early stages of Sever’s disease rehab, once your child's foot is free from pain. Stretches help loosen tight muscles in the heel and foot.

For successful Sever's disease recovery, it’s vital for your child to stretch and perform physical therapy exercises to strengthen the leg muscles.

The UPMC Sports Medicine team can help your child with these rehab methods.

Make an appointment for Sever's disease treatment

To make an appointment for Sever's disease treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about Sever's disease treatment

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library: