Sever’s Disease (Heel Pain)

What is Sever’s disease?

Sever’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the growth plate at the base of the heel (calcaneus).

When does Sever’s occur?

Sever’s is often present at a time of rapid growth in adolescent athletic children. At this time the muscles and tendons become tighter as the bones become larger. Between 8 – 15 years of age is the usual onset of this condition.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Sever’s Disease may vary but usually include: –

  • Generalised pain and discomfort around the back of the heel
  • Can be one sided or both sides
  • Starts after child starts a new sport season
  • May cause child to limp due to pain
  • Increases with weight bearing activity
  • Heel becomes red and can be swollen
  • X-rays are usually inconclusive and simply show the growth plate.

How can your podiatrist help?

Your podiatrist can help manage this condition by implementing a treatment program. This may incorporate one or all of the following: –

  • RI (Rest and Ice)
  • Activity modification so child becomes pain free
  • Daily stretching routine
  • Heel raise within shoes to decrease pull on heel
  • Biomechanical abnormalities corrected (Orthotics)
  • Strengthening of associated muscles
  • Footwear modification

What causes Sever’s Disease?

Inflammation occurs at the insertion of the achilles tendon into the back of the heel due to a number of reasons. One or several of the following may cause the initiation of Sever’s disease: –

  • Rapid growth spurt
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Change in footwear (soccer boots / athletic shoes no heel)
  • Excessive rolling in of feet
  • Poor warm up routine
  • Remember this condition usually settles as the growth plate fuses within 6-12 months.