Will Severs Disease Always Call For Surgical Treatments?

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Overview

Sever's disease is a disorder that commonly occurs in active children between the ages of 9 and 13 years of age. Even though it is misnamed as a disease, it is actually a self-limiting disorder that occurs around the growth plate in the back of the heel. The Achilles tendon attaches to the upper portion of the heel growth plate. On the bottom of the growth plate is an attachment of a ligament known as the plantar fascia. With increased activity, there is a pulling or tugging that occurs on this growth plate, and a portion of the growth plate is being pulled away from its attachment to the heel. X-rays are often taken to verify the position and location of this growth plate.

Causes

During the growth spurt of early puberty, the heel bone (also called the calcaneus) sometimes grows faster than the leg muscles and tendons. This can cause the muscles and tendons to become very tight and overstretched, making the heel less flexible and putting pressure on the growth plate. The Achilles tendon (also called the heel cord) is the strongest tendon that attaches to the growth plate in the heel. Over time, repeated stress (force or pressure) on the already tight Achilles tendon damages the growth plate, causing the swelling, tenderness, and pain of Sever's disease. Such stress commonly results from physical activities and sports that involve running and jumping, especially those that take place on hard surfaces, such as track, basketball, soccer, and gymnastics.

Symptoms

Unilateral or bilateral heel pain. Heel pain during physical exercise, especially activities that require running or jumping. Increased pain level after exercise. A tender swelling or bulge on the heel that is painful on touch. Limping. Calf muscle stiffness first thing in the morning.

Diagnosis

Your podiatrist will take a comprehensive medical history and perform a physical examination including a gait analysis. The assessment will include foot posture assessment, joint flexibility (or range of motion), biomechanical assessment of the foot, ankle and leg, foot and leg muscle strength testing, footwear assessment, school shoes and athletic footwear, gait analysis, to look for abnormalities in the way the feet move during gait, Pain provocation tests eg calcaneal squeeze test. X-rays are not usually required to diagnose Sever?s disease.

Non Surgical Treatment

Treatment of Severs disease usually involves a combination of an accurate analysis of your child?s gait, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints is a crucial first step. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises often make up part of the treatment. Anti-inflammatory measures such as ice baths after exercise can be helpful in the short term. Footwear review, assessment and advice is important. Orthotic devices are often needed to firstly control any abnormal traction or tension on the heel growth plate and, secondly, too unload the ground reaction forces on the heel bone. Podiatry Care has podiatrists with specific paediatric training enabling them to utilise treatment options to relieve heel pain in children very quickly. If your child is struggling to play sport, see a Podiatry Care podiatrist near you. In severe cases modification to activity levels may be required. Treatment of Severs disease does NOT require surgery. This foot condition responds very well to conservative treatment.
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