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Sever’s Disease – Adolescent Heel Pain

The development of the human body is a fascinating process. It spans the course of years and doesn’t happen in a uniform manner. Given that the body relies on feet for support and mobility, these are some of the first parts to attain their full size. Even within a foot, though, growth is not uniform and an issue can arise when the heel bone develops at a faster pace than do its connective tissues. This ailment is known as Sever’s disease and you may need us to provide care for child heel pain if it happens to your son or daughter.

Why Your Child’s Heel Hurts

This condition, which is also known as calcaneal apophysitis, typically affects children between the ages of 8 and 15 years old as they go through a growth spurt. There is a growth plate in the back of the heel known as the physis that becomes inflamed when exposed to too much repetitive stress (like the kind that comes with running on hard surfaces or from physical activities like soccer). For this reason, the heel pain is common to preteens and teens who are active participants in sports.

With regard to symptoms, the primary one that will be noted is pain in the bottom or back areas of the heel, particularly with activity. One way to tell if this condition is present is to gently squeeze the sides of the affected heel. If gentle squeezing causes pain, Sever’s disease may very well be the culprit. Other signs that might be exhibited include a sudden withdrawal from previously enjoyable physical activities, limping, or even toe-walking done to keep pressure off the affected heel.

Treating Sever’s Disease

Given that this is a temporary condition that goes away when the other areas have caught up to the growth plate, conservative treatment methods (no need for surgery) are often quite effective. These include:

  • Reduced activity. In order to keep pressure off of the affected heel, we may recommend that your son or daughter take time off from certain physical activities, especially high-impact sports. In order to remain active and stay in shape, low-impact activities like bicycling or swimming are good options.
  • Physical therapy. We just advocated taking time away from physical activity, but stretches and exercises to strengthen muscles and leg tendons promote healing for the inflamed tissue that causes your child’s heel pain. Our office can provide advice on exercises and techniques that are beneficial.
  • Icing. Ice is useful for reducing pain and inflammation in the affected heel(s).
  • Medications. In addition to ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are able to help manage the levels of pain or inflammation that your child experiences. Be sure to consult with our office first for appropriate dosage information and specific recommendations.
  • Heel Support. We can provide customized orthotic devices or shoe inserts to support the painful heel and alleviate discomfort for your son or daughter.
  • Immobilization. Generally speaking, the above treatment tactics are effective for managing cases of Sever’s disease. Severe cases, though, may benefit from the use of a protective boot or cast to immobilize the foot and ankle and allow for natural healing.

Preventative Measures

With this condition stemming from natural growth and development processes, it is difficult to completely decrease the risk of calcaneal apophysitis from happening. However, there are certain measures that can be taken to at least minimize the odds it happens to your child. If your child maintains a healthy bodyweight, it reduces the amount of stress faced by the heel bone. Another step to help reduce the chances of Sever’s disease is to avoid overuse, especially for activities that entail repeated pounding, like running on hard surfaces.

When Your Child Needs Foot Care in Manalapan, NJ

When your adolescent son or daughter complains of heel pain, bring him or her to A Step Up Podiatry, LLC. Whereas it might be Sever’s disease that is causing the pain or discomfort, we will rule out other heel issues and provide effective treatment. Our office is conveniently located in Manalapan Township, NJ and staffed with caring professionals who want your child to enjoy normal activities without being hampered by pain. Call us today at (732) 446-7136 or use our online form to schedule your appointment today!


A Step Up Podiatry, LLC
215 Gordons Corner Road, Suite 2A
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-646-6194
Fax: 732-446-7138

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