Addressing Severs Disease


If your child is experiencing activity related pain just below the kneecap, at the top of the shinbone, or in their heel or hip then the chances are they are suffering from Osgood Schlatter, Severs disease or Ischial Apophysitis respectively. Today, thousands of children are diagnosed with one of these conditions every year. Many others are never diagnosed and the discomfort is often dismissed as 'growing pains'


Sever?s Disease is thought to be caused by several reasons. Growth spurts. The muscles and tendons become tight due to rapid bone growth. Overuse. Sever?s Disease can also occur in children who are athletically active and overwork his or her muscles. Some physicians are beginning to caution parents about checking their children?s shoes to make sure they fit well and do not pinch or put undue pressure on the child?s feet. Pronation can also bring on Sever?s Disease.


Sharp pain will be present in the affected heel (or both heels), especially while running or walking. Pain can be heightened following activity. The area will be tender to the touch and usually becomes inflamed or reddened. It may also be painful to press on the heel with a finger from the back or to squeeze the sides together; the latter is particularly common. You might notice stiffness in some of the surrounding muscles, making regular movements more difficult to achieve. This and the pain can manifest physically in abnormal practices like tiptoeing or limping. In some cases a lump can be detected on the back of the heel, though it may be so small as to defy detection.


Sever condition is diagnosed by detecting the characteristic symptoms and signs above in the older children, particularly boys between 8 and 15 years of age. Sometimes X-ray testing can be helpful as it can occasionally demonstrate irregularity of the calcaneus bone at the point where the Achilles tendon attaches.

Non Surgical Treatment

First, your child should cut down or stop any activity that causes heel pain. Apply ice to the injured heel for 25 minutes three times a day. Your child should not go barefoot. If your child has severe heel pain, ibuprofen (Advil) will help. It is important that your child performs exercises to stretch the hamstring and calf muscles, and the tendons on the back of the leg. The child should do these stretches five times each, two or three times a day. Each stretch should be held for 20 seconds. Your child also needs to do exercises to strengthen the muscles on the front of the shin. To do this, have your child stand facing a wall to stretch the calves and the heel cord. Place one foot a shoulder?s width in front of the other, both feet facing the wall. The front knee is bent and the back knee is straight during the calf stretch. Then have your child push against the wall and feel the stretch in his or her back leg. To stretch out the heel cord, have him or her stay in the same position and bend the back knee. Repeat three times. Practice this stretch twice daily.

Surgical Treatment

The surgeon may select one or more of the following options to treat calcaneal apophysitis. Reduce activity. The child needs to reduce or stop any activity that causes pain. Support the heel. Temporary shoe inserts or custom orthotic devices may provide support for the heel. Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical therapy. Stretching or physical therapy modalities are sometimes used to promote healing of the inflamed issue. Immobilization. In some severe cases of pediatric heel pain, a cast may be used to promote healing while keeping the foot and ankle totally immobile. Often heel pain in children returns after it has been treated because the heel bone is still growing. Recurrence of heel pain may be a sign of calcaneal apophysitis, or it may indicate a different problem. If your child has a repeat bout of heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with your foot and ankle surgeon.