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It’s always good to see your kids running around enjoying themselves. However, all that charging about can cause problems, particularly between 7 and 14 years of age.

This is when Sever’s Disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) can be an issue, particularly during the sudden growth spurts of puberty. The heel becomes swollen and painful, making it tricky to walk or run properly.

What Is Sever’s Disease?

This is a heel injury that arises due to overuse. It’s often triggered by sports activities that place feet under extra pressure. Constant stress on the heel (jumping or running, for example) causes the growth plate to become inflamed and sore.

What Is the Growth Plate?

This is an area of cartilage in the heels where bone growth occurs. The calf muscles attach to this area via the Achilles tendon.

For children and teens, it’s common for bones to develop faster than tendons or muscles, especially during puberty. Indeed, the foot is one of the fastest-growing body parts. This causes the Achilles tendon to become very tight, leading to irritation of the growth plate, and hence, the pain and swelling.

How to Spot the Symptoms

Sever’s disease can appear in both heels or just one. Pain occurs underneath the heel or at the back, and it tends to develop gradually. Running or jumping will exacerbate the problem but even walking can be uncomfortable.

The heels may be red, swollen and sensitive to touch. You may also notice your child limping and even trying to walk on their toes to avoid putting pressure on the heels.

Your Podiatrist Can Help

Happily, there are several effective ways your podiatrist can help to treat Sever’s disease.

Rest: Identifying and cutting down on the activity that has triggered the problem is the first step. It may be necessary to stop doing it altogether for the time being.

Ice Packs and Anti-Inflammatories: Both are handy for reducing painful swelling but always check with a healthcare professional before administering any drugs.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: These ease the uncomfortable tension in tight muscles, tendons and ligaments. The exercises should include not just the Achilles tendon but the calf and hamstrings as well. This helps to strengthen the entire area to promote healing and good balance.

Correct Heel Support: Orthotics help to relieve pressure and correct posture. They also support the feet, heels and ankles to protect them from further injury. Long term use of the orthotics is probably unnecessary. In many cases, the situation settles down once the feet have grown a little more, but everyone is different, of course.

Footwear Advice: This is always helpful, whatever your age, but vital when young feet are still growing. Problems left unresolved now lead to issues in the future.

The right footwear for sports and life, in general, is essential at this age (all ages really) and your podiatrist will keep you heading in the right direction – without falling over!        

Avoid the Problem in the First Place

This is the best solution in all cases, if possible. Regular foot assessments for growing kids help to spot issues before they become really painful. In the case of Sever’s disease, the correct shoes and orthotics will go a long way to preventing the condition from arising, or from becoming severe.

Keep Your Kids Upright With Feet By Pody

Our friendly and experienced podiatrists have all the advice you need to keep your kids happy and healthy.

Book an appointment at one of our London foot clinics today.