Sever's Disease: Growing Kids with Growing Pains

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Kids outside playingIn an outdoor and fitness-loving place like Colorado, it’s not surprising that around here, active lifestyles start at a young age. There are so many opportunities for energetic kids and young athletes – from school sports, to recreational and travel leagues, to clubs, parks, children’s activity centers, and more. However, if you’re on-the-go child starts complaining of heel pain, and suddenly isn’t as interested in his or her typical activities, these are warning signs of Sever’s disease, a condition that can bring active kids to a grinding halt.

Sever’s disease is not actually a disease at all, but rather a case of what might be referred to as growing pains. It happens when your child’s heel bone grows faster than the Achilles tendon attached to it. When the Achilles can’t keep up, the tendon stretches tight and pulls on the heel causing pain, swelling, tenderness, and difficulty walking, much less running, jumping, and playing sports! Symptoms are typically worse after activity, especially when cleats are involved. Kids most at risk are those going through growth spurts—usually occurring between the ages of 8 and 15. The good news is that once your child has stopped growing, the symptoms will stop as well. In other words, kids tend to simply outgrow this condition and go on to be as active as any other child with no long-term issues.

You do not have to sit idly by and wait for your son or daughter to get through this, though. There are steps you can take to ease symptoms, like making sure your child’s shoes are supportive and cushioned in the heel. You can use heel pads or cups for additional help, and orthotic shoe inserts will reduce stress on the area as well. There are also stretches and strengthening exercises you can try, and ice and anti-inflammatory medicine can be used to reduce pain and swelling. In severe cases, a cast or special boot may be needed to ensure immobility. We know it’s a tall order for most kids, but rest is essential with Sever’s disease. Avoid activities on hard surfaces and elevate the foot when possible.

If you have a child complaining of heel pain, make an appointment with Dr. O so we can determine if Sever’s disease is to blame, and get a treatment plan in place. You can reach us at (303) 805-5156 or by using our online contact form. We’re here to help kids get back to the activities they love! 

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC
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