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Sever’s Disease

Sever's Disease, prevalent in children aged 8 to 14, especially active athletes, causes heel pain, swelling, and walking issues. Treatment involves R.I.C.E., NSAIDs, supportive footwear, and stretching, with emphasis on physical therapy for recovery. 

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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

What are the risk factors of Sever's disease?

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

What are the complications of Sever's disease?

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.

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What Are the Symptoms of Sever's Disease?

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.

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How Do You Diagnose Sever's Disease?

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.

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How Do You Treat Sever's Disease?

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.

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