Heel pain in active kids (Severs Disease)

Heel pain in active kids (Severs Disease)

Sam is 10 and loves his footy! He plays once a week, trains twice a week and you can’t stop him from playing at school and in the backyard with his brothers. He plays cricket in the summer he is a typical Australian boy – loves his sport, and loves getting in and getting dirty.

Of late something has stopped Sam being as active as he would like to be. He has recently developed a pain around the back of his heel that occurs after he has been active, particularly such as after playing or training for football. Sam’s dad is worried because it means Sam sometimes starts to limp during a game and has had to come off the field once because it became too painful. This worries his parents more now because Sam would like to play reps this year and his dad thinks if this wasn’t a problem he may have a chance.

So how did A Step Ahead Foot +Ankle Care get to meet Sam?

Sam’s dad found us through the internet after reading one of the articles Brenden had written, talking about dealing with foot pain. We checked Sam’s walking and posture using our Dartfish gait analysis equipment. We also undertook a series of muscle tests and palpated the muscles and tendons around his heel and ankle. After some more questioning we diagnosed Sam with Severs Disease – which sounds rather horrible, however, while painful this should really be called a condition rather than a disease.

kids playing sport

Heel pain in children

In very basic terms Severs Disease is an irritation of the growth plate. During growth spurts, the heel bone 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. This is more common than people realise and often parents are told that their child needs to rest or that there is nothing that can be done. Worse still, parents can sometimes be told this is simply growing pains.

There are many things that can relieve pain in children affected by Severs Disease. In Sam’s case we designed some stretching for him to undertake, started on a series of deep massages to help stretch out Sam’s very tight muscles. We also gave some heel raises to Sam to take the load of the growth plates. We contacted Sam’s football coach and gave him some details of the condition and went through a warm up program with the coach so Sam would be able to play at his best.

The good news is Sam made the rep side!

After a couple of sessions of massage and Sam being very good at warming up as we had instructed him, things began to improve. Sam had 5 sessions of massage and we continued with his stretching at home and before sport for the whole season. Sam is now pain free and still loves sport and getting dirty! (Apologies to Sam’s mum, the getting dirty bit we can’t fix!)