Watch for Sever’s Disease in Young Athletes

Depending on the age of a child, foot problems can be difficult to detect. Young children can’t always articulate their symptoms and parents need to be aware of changes in behavior that may signal foot pain or discomfort. With the spring sports season in full swing a condition that we at Paul Klein, DPM FACFAS expect to see more often in youth now is Sever’s Disease.

What is Sever’s Disease?

Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever’s Disease isn’t really a “disease.” It’s a very painful inflammation of the growth plate in the heel that usually affects children ages 8 to 14. During those years new bone continues to form at the growth plate located at the back of the heel, creating a weak spot. If this area is subject to excessive repetitive stress inflammation can occur. Sever’s Disease can happen in one or both feet and is the most common cause of heel pain in children.

Telltale Signs

The symptoms of calcaneal apophysitis include pain in the back or bottom of the heel and pain when the sides of heel are squeezed. A feeling of tiredness in the foot is also a sign of this disorder. In younger children, however, you may notice difficulty running and a lack of desire to participate in activities and sports they normally enjoy. Limping and walking on the toes are also potential indicators of heel (or other) foot pain.

Sever’s Disease is primarily an overuse disorder. Repetitive stress on the heel bone from participation in sports that involve running or pounding on hard surfaces causes inflammation of the tissue and strain to surrounding muscles. Children who participate in soccer, basketball and track are particularly at risk. Other scenarios that may make a child more prone to this disorder are:

  • Obesity
  • Biomechanical dysfunction such as flatfeet or an overly high arch
  • Tight Achilles tendon

If you notice any signs that your child appears to be experiencing foot pain, make an appointment at our Wayne office by calling: (973) 595-1555. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein will examine your child’s foot and prescribe the correct treatment for the condition causing pain or discomfort.