Overview

Sever’s Disease is a very common heel injury amongst children and growing adolescents. It is a disorder of the bone and while it can be quite painful, the condition is usually temporary and has no known long-term effects.

Causes

Sever’s Disease occurs when the growth plate of the heel swells as a result of the heel bones growing faster than the muscles and tendons, causing them to tighten and overstretch. This makes the heel less flexible and puts pressure on the growth plate, causing it to become damaged, swollen, tender and painful.

The most common causes of this condition are:

  • Excessive running and jumping – especially when performed on hard surfaces like concrete.
  • Prolonged standing.
  • Inward rolling feet while standing, walking or running.
  • Flat feet or “fallen arches”
  • Too much pressure on the heels as a result of being overweight.
  • Short Leg syndrome.

Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of Sever’s Disease is pain in and around the heel, specifically at the back of the heel.

Swelling and redness may be visible and a person may experience heel pain during physical activities or exercise, particularly those involving running or jumping. Pain may increase after the conclusion of physical activity. 

Diagnosis

Dan Everson Podiatry can diagnose a case of Sever’s Disease through history taking, a physical examination of the foot and a Biomechanical Assessment to study your range of movement. It is likely your podiatrist will also squeeze the back and side of the heels and ask you to walk on your tiptoes to assess pain levels. More extensive tests for other causes may be required if the pain is persistent or continues during rest.

Other symptoms requiring careful examination include pain that disrupts sleep or significant swelling of the heel. An X-ray, ultrasound or MRI can be used to exclude the possibility of a more serious problem.

Treatment

Sever’s Disease will resolve on its own when the foot is rested and the bones in the heel area have stopped growing. There is no known long-term disability resulting from the condition and symptoms typically subside within a 2 to 8 week period with the correct treatment. Nevertheless, it is still recommended to see a podiatrist for assessment and treatment. Below is a selection of the methods Dan Everson Podiatry recommends to treat Sever’s Disease and prevent a recurrence:

  • Minimise, and if possible totally avoid, any activity that causes pain in the heels until you have completely recovered.
  • Apply ice to the affected area to reduce inflammation.
  • Use pain-relief medication.
  • Perform regular exercises for the feet and legs to stretch the muscles and tendons.
  • Invest in shoes that have great support for the feet’s arches and cushion the heel. Look for athletic shoes or ones with a well-cushioned sole.
  • Kinetic Orthotics can be prescribed to correct abnormal joint motion in the feet. 

Prevention

Dan Everson Podiatry recommends the following activities to help prevent Sever’s Disease:

  1. Seek advice from your podiatrist on the most appropriate footwear or footwear modifications for your needs.
  2. Avoid excessive running and jumping on hard surfaces.
  3. Encourage greater flexibility with appropriate leg and foot exercises.
  4. If a person is overweight, weight loss may be advised to decrease pressure on the heel.
Get relief for your
Heel Pain
Book an assessment today