Sever’s heel pain in children

Sever’s or calcaneal tractional apophysitis as it is correctly called is a very common condition particularly in young athletes. It can be a very painful and debilitating condition as it will regularly prevent children from participating in their favourite activities: whether that be football, netball, basketball, dancing, martial arts, or any other sports or physical activity.

There is only one really good thing about calcaneal apophysitis, and that is that everybody will eventually grow out of it. But in the meantime it can make young people quite miserable unless it is managed well. The age range for Sever’s is from 8-14 years old. This is the time when a smaller bone at the back of the heel which is attached to the Achilles tendon, starts fusing to the main bone of the heel. If there is a lot of stress in this area due to tight calves and heavy activity on hard grounds, then pain can result.

A podiatrist is assessing a child's heel

Treatment – some of the treatment methods effective in reducing pain from Sever’s are:

1. Inserting heel raises into shoes to reduce the tension of the Achilles tendon

2. Calf stretches – these need to be done very carefully as they can increase pain in the acute stage.

3. Ice applied for 15 minutes after the activity which flares the pain.

4. Custom foot orthotics are helpful when there is a biomechanical component such as low arched foot type.

5. Relative rest – reducing activities which cause the pain.

6. Strapping to splint the foot and ankle and reduce stress on the area.

A child holds his foot on a soccer ball at the beach

Your podiatrist is best equipped to diagnose calcaneal apophysitis and work out the best treatment plan for you or your child. With correct treatment someone with Sever’s will be getting back to their favourite activity often within a few weeks.

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