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Help! My child has heel pain: An Adelaide Podiatrist discusses Sever’s Disease.

One of the most common presenting complaints from children (and their parents) is ‘heel pain’. Technically speaking, heel pain relates to a child’s calcaneal (heel bone) growth plate and is usually called Sever’s Disease.

The cause of Sever’s Disease is uncertain, but is thought to be related to faster bone growth of the lower leg/foot compared to the surrounding muscle and soft tissue. Muscles like the calf-complex ‘pull’ on the growth plate of the heel causing the area to become tender and painful. Once the growth plate has ossified (closed-over),  the muscle has a chance to catch-up to the bone growth, leading to a resolution of symptoms.

Saying this, children’s feet length and width usually continues to grow until their mid-teens!

Sever’s Disease doesn’t always develop spontaneously. The ‘pain’ of Sever’s Disease can triggered by the following factors in a childs development:

– an increase in the amount of physical activity the child is participating in

– the ground surface of the activity or sport

– footwear

Diagnoses of Sever’s Disease is done by a Podiatrist often with a supporting ultrasound image. An X-Ray in this case doesn’t show the severity of Sever’s Disease, but may be helpful in ruling out fractures.

The pain of Sever’s Disease is ‘self-limiting’ to the child, meaning that  pain will limit the child from undertaking their usual activity. The pain can be managed by a treatment plan from the Podiatrist which may include the following options:

– recovery, rest and/or modification of activity levels

– ice therapy

– heel cups, heel wedges and other inserts


-orthotic therapy

-leg stretches

-pain relief medication

Picture Reference:

Foot Physics 2013 <http://www.footphysics.co.uk/child-pain-injury-conditions/child-heel-pain-and-treatments/>

Written by
Written by

Adam Wiles

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