With the fall sports season in full swing, we at Gentle Professional Foot Care are seeing more young athletes in our Venice office complaining of heel pain. While there are several potential causes for discomfort in this area (including everything from ill-fitting shoes to plantar fasciitis), the most common source of heel pain in children is Sever’s Disease. Below are some facts about this condition to help parents better understand what it is and how to deal with it:
Fact: Sever’s Disease isn’t really a disease. Also known as Calcaneal apophysitis, it is a painful inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. It occurs most frequently in children ages 8 to 14 because those years are when growth in the heel bone is occurring. Until the heel bone is fully formed, the growth plate in the back of the heel is vulnerable to inflammation, which is the source of the pain.
Fact: Sever’s Disease can occur in one or both heels. The biggest cause of Sever’s Disease is repetitive stress to the heel, most often from sports activities. Running, jumping and other activities that have the heel repeatedly pounding on hard surfaces are the biggest offenders. For this reason, children involved in track, basketball, soccer and gymnastics are particularly at risk for this condition.
Fact: In addition to sports activities, there are factors that increase the likelihood of getting Sever’s Disease. These include obesity, a tight Achilles tendon and biomechanical problems in the foot such as a high arch or flat feet.
Fact: In order to diagnose Sever’s Disease, our podiatrist Dr. Charles A. Suleskey will examine your child’s feet and get a complete medical history. The foot doctor will ask questions about your child’s activities and may order x-rays or other imaging studies as well as laboratory tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.
Fact: There are a number of treatment options available for Sever’s Disease. To start, your child will need to take a break from any activity that aggravates the heel. Changing shoes or using an insert or custom orthotic device may help. The foot doctor may also recommend physical therapy and stretching to help encourage healing of the inflammation. Sever’s Disease may recur until the growth of the heel bone is complete.
Don’t ignore your child’s complaints of heel pain. Delaying treatment will only cause the condition to worsen. Contact our office for an appointment today by calling: (941) 493-7999.