Severs Disease, also known as Calcaneal Apophysitis, is a painful foot condition that usually affects children between 9 and 15 years of age. Active children may often suffer from Severs Disease when they experience sharp, aching pain in their feet, particularly in their heels, which may cause them to change their gait (the way their foot hits the ground as they walk or run).
Severs Disease affects growing, pre-pubescent children. As the growth plate of their heel bone grows, sometimes the muscles and tendons in the foot grow at a slower rate, causing severe pain when walking or running. Because the heel bone is growing faster than the muscles and tendons in the foot they become stressed, and as the child runs or plays sports the tension in the muscles can become extremely painful.
The main symptom associated with Severs Disease is localized pain in the heel of the foot where ligaments attach to the heel bone. This pain can be especially noticeable when a child walks or runs during any type of sporting or physical activity. Placing pressure on the area may also be extremely painful, particularly during jumping. The pain of Severs Disease often causes children to change their gait (they way their foot hits the ground as the walk or run), placing more weight towards the front of their foot. Although it may relieve some discomfort while walking, this could lead to other problems.
The causes of Severs Disease are not known. It occurs during the early stages of puberty as bones are rapidly growing. Often, overuse can be the main culprit that triggers this condition, occurring in children who are highly active in sports and when the tendons are unable to keep up with the severe stress and tension being placed on them. In addition to overuse during physical activity and exercise, pronation and obesity may often be contributing factors for Severs Disease.
- Initial treatment for Severs Disease should begin with limiting physical activity. Maintaining intense exercise will only cause the pain to worsen and make the condition more severe.
- Anti-inflammatory medications may also be helpful to some degree to reduce pain.
- Wearing supportive shoes is also important in order to help keep as much stress of the heel as possible, however supportive shoes alone will not usually be effective in curing the condition.
- Orthotic shoe inserts are a good way to treat the symptoms, as well as help eliminate Severs Disease completely. Orthotic devices have had great success in treating children who suffer from Severs Disease in addition to other painful foot ailments.
- Taping the affected area can improve symptoms.
- Applying a warm compress prior to exercise and a cold compress after will also help reduce symptoms.