You couldn’t be happier when your child made the team, but your heart sank when you noticed she was limping on one side. She says it’s not that bad, but you can tell she’s in pain—and she would rather play on an injury than let her teammates down. Is there anything you can do to stop the pain and get her back on the field?

What Is Sever’s Disease?

Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is an inflammation in the growth plate of the heel that commonly occurs in pre-teen children. Any motion that “pulls” on the growth plate, such as walking or running, can cause swelling, tenderness, and extreme pain in the back of the child’s heel.

The main causes of Sever’s disease symptoms include:

  • Adolescence. Sever’s disease will often arise as a child goes through a growth spurt, and most commonly affects children before they become teenagers. As children enter into puberty, the tissues in their bodies will grow at different rates. The heel bone may grow more quickly than the tendons attached to it, stretching the tendons and placing pressure on the bone. Sever’s disease commonly appears in girls under age 12 and boys under age 13.

  • School sports. While increased activity does not cause Sever’s disease, it can make the symptoms more noticeable. When children begin a new sport, they may go from little physical activity to hours of practice, overusing the tendons and muscles in their feet. Children whose recreational activities depend on running, jumping, and hard landings on the heel (as in gymnastics) are the most likely to suffer from Sever’s disease, as these motions can lead to inflammation of the tendon at the back of the heel (the Achilles tendon).

  • Non-supportive footwear. Children’s feet need room to grow, but they also need proper support to help their feet develop normally. Wearing new shoes for long periods, wearing shoes that are too tight or have no proper arch or heel support (such as flip flops), or even walking barefoot for long periods can aggravate the condition—and may even prevent your child from placing any weight on his foot.

What Should I Do If My Child Cannot Put Weight on His Heel?

If you think your child may be suffering from Sever’s disease, you should bring him to a podiatrist as quickly as possible to rule out heel fracture or other severe injury. Above all, do not allow your child to keep playing on an injured foot, as this can aggravate his condition or even lead to permanent injury.

At Podiatry Care Specialists, PC, we know that parents suffer whenever their children are in pain. That is why we can design custom orthotics to take the pressure off your child’s heel and allow it to grow, helping your child return to the activities he loves more quickly. We also schedule several follow-up visits to ensure that solution is working, and teach your child stretches and exercises that can help prevent Sever’s disease pain in the future.

Call us to make an appointment at the Podiatry Care Specialists, PC location nearest you, or use our convenient online request form to schedule an appointment today!