Stay in the Game and Prevent Sever’s Disease

School is now in full swing, which means you’re probably filling up your free time warming the bleachers and cheering on your kids during their soccer and football games. While you’re watching, make sure your kid isn’t limping or walking unusually. Children and teenagers between the ages of 9 and 14 are at high risk for developing persistent heel pain that could put them out for the entire season. You can prevent Sever’s disease from getting worse with some education on what’s causing the pain and some options for what you can do to treat the condition.

During those first few years of puberty, your child’s body is going through a lot of changes—including in the feet. When the heel bone grows faster than the leg muscles and tendons, it causes those muscles and tendons to tighten and stretch. The Achilles tendon eventually pulls and damages the growth plate, which is an area of cartilage developing into bone. That damage shows up as swelling, redness, tenderness, and extreme pain in the back of the heel. The pain only gets worse without rest, so it’s best to treat the problem at the first sign of symptoms.

The best way to prevent Sever’s disease is for your child to stay flexible and stretch the hamstring, calf muscles, and the Achilles tendon before and after activity each day. It’s important to hold the stretches for 20 seconds and stretch both legs, even if there is only pain in one.

If he or she only has smaller symptoms, like swelling and some tenderness, consider your child lucky. They may only have to sit out for one to two weeks during the season. The best treatment is to immediately stop the activity that caused the pain. Elevate and ice the heel for 20 minutes at a time to relieve discomfort and swelling.

It’s important that your little one rests until there is no longer any pain. The pain usually gets more intense with activity, so returning to the field too early will only make the problem worse if the heel hasn’t healed.

More involved recovery may take two to three months and involve a cast or boot to immobilize the area. If you need help for your child’s Sever’s disease that won’t go away, please call Sierra Foot & Ankle at (775) 783-8037. We can also be found on Twitter and Pinterest!

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