The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Sever’s Disease: A Common Overuse Injury In Youngsters

Posted by on Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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Sever’s Disease is one of the most common overuse sports injuries in the U.S. It may not receive the street cred that plantar fasciitis gets, but this painful condition affecting the heel routinely affects child athletes, usually from eight to thirteen years of age, right when the bones are coming together. The pounding force causes inflammation between the bones, according to YNN, as well as injury to the growth plates themselves. While the “disease” classification may sound scary, it’s actually a quite normal overuse sports injury that does not typically persist into adulthood.

Risk Factors For Sever’s Disease

While anyone can get Sever’s Disease, it most commonly affects…

– Boys, but may also affect girls

– Children ages eight to thirteen

– Children involved in high-impact sports like baseball, football and soccer

– Kids with forefoot to midfoot misalignment walking patterns

– Poor-fitting shoes

– Standing for long periods of time

– Obesity

– Flat feet

– A gait that roll inwards

What Exactly Happens?

Typically, the sports injury occurs where the achilles tendon attaches to the bone. The epiphyseal growth plate is located at the end of a developing bone where cartilage turns into bone cells. As the growth center expands and unites, this area may become inflamed, causing severe pain when both sides of the heel are compressed. There is typically no swelling and no warmth, so it’s not always an easy condition to spot. The child usually has trouble walking, stiffness upon waking, and pain with activity that subsides during periods of rest.

Treatments For Sever’s Disease

Initially, Sever’s Disease is treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication and softer shoes. Ice followed by heat is a common practice and heel cup orthotics have worked wonders for our young patients in the past. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year for these growth plates to naturally close — at which point Sever’s Disease disappears.

Even though the condition does heal on its own, athletes are encouraged to seek treatment, rather than push through the pain. Simply “dealing with it” and continuing to play sports despite the injury could lead to an impaired gait, a strained hip or a knee injury. Stretches to strengthen the leg muscles, leg compression wraps and over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen are also recommended treatments. In very rare cases, a podiatrist may recommend wearing a cast for two to twelve weeks. If you live in the NYC area, give us a call!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.