A Foot to Stand On

Sever's Disease Is A Common Cause Of Heel Pain In Children. Here's How You Can Help Treat It

by Grace Ortiz

If your child has heel pain when they walk or run, they may be suffering from Sever's disease. Sever's disease is a type of overuse injury that's caused by placing too much pressure on the growth plate at the bottom of the heel bone. Only children have growth plates, so Sever's disease never affects adults. Growth plates are made from cartilage, so they can't withstand as much force as solid bone, making them more susceptible to overuse injuries. 

Children who play sports that require them to wear cleats like soccer and football are more likely to develop Sever's disease since wearing cleats places a large amount of pressure on the heel bone. Children who play basketball or gymnastics are also more prone to developing Sever's disease since these activities require a lot of jumping, which places stress on the heel bone.

Thankfully, Sever's disease doesn't cause any permanent damage to the heel bone. However, it can be very painful until the growth plate has healed. To speed up your child's recovery from Sever's disease and help relieve their pain, read on to find out how you can treat it.

Rest the Affected Foot

If your child has Sever's disease, the most important thing they can do is rest the painful heel. They should take a break from sports until they're able to walk around without pain, and they should also try to stay off of their feet as much as possible throughout the day. You can also apply ice to your child's heel while they're resting to reduce pain and inflammation.

Resting the damaged growth plate will avoid putting any more stress on it and give it time to heal. If your child's heel bone does not seem to be getting better with rest, you may need to visit a podiatrist and have a cast put on it in order to fully immobilize it and completely prevent all stress to the growth plate.

Take Pain Medication

Anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen helps reduce the amount of heel pain your child feels. Pain from Sever's disease is caused by the swelling and inflammation surrounding the damaged growth plate, which over-the-counter pain medication can treat. Keep in mind, however, that it's still important for your child to rest their foot as much as possible — they shouldn't take pain medication as a way to continue playing sports.

Wear Heel Inserts or Shoes With an Elevated Heel

Once your child's heel feels better, you can speak to a podiatrist about how to prevent them from getting Sever's disease again. Heel inserts or special footwear that raise the heel help take pressure off of it, reducing the amount of stress that's placed on the heel's growth plate. A podiatrist can help you find the right inserts or shoes for your child to wear so that they reduce their chances of damaging the heel's growth plate in the future.

If your child has chronic heel pain and you suspect that they have Sever's disease, make an appointment with a podiatrist for an examination. A podiatrist can rule out other potential causes of heel pain such as Achilles tendinitis, and they can also help you find orthotic inserts for your child that take stress off of their heel.