My ten year old son recently began limping and telling me he had a sore foot. He is extremely active so I put it down to a stone bruise or something innocuous. I finally decided to take it seriously when he was hobbling around like an old man when he first got up in the mornings. It was the end of the summer sports season and he was nearing the finals for all his sports. It also coincided with the start of training for his winter sports. Every day of the week he was exercising and it was at that point that he was diagnosed with ‘Severs Disease’.
The name conjures images of a contagious infection where the foot is severed from the body, but thankfully it’s not as disturbing as that! Put simply, it is when the growth plate in the heel grows faster than the achilles tendon can stretch and is very common in active kids after they have had a growth spurt. The only course of action was to rest and to do stretches to help the achilles lengthen. As he already wears orthotics in his shoes, these were raised slightly in the heel to relieve the tension in his tendon.
To my son’s horror, the diagnosis of severs required him to limit his activities. He had to give up rugby training, competing in his school cross country and sat out a game or two of basketball. After reducing his sport, which let’s be honest is like a cruel form of torture for an active ten year old, the pain subsided.
Severs is a condition that will flare up off and on as he grows and he just has to manage it with ice packs to reduce swelling and stretching exercises.
As a side note, the podiatrist mentioned to me that kids that get ‘Severs’ often then get another growth related disease called ‘Osgood-Schlatter Disease’ a few years later in life when the growth plates in their knees start to give them pain. He advised that my son should try to build up his quads to help support his knees before the pain sets in.
So if you have an active kid complaining of sore heels or knees there is a good chance that they are suffering from good old growing pains!
(Image courtesy of photo stock, freedigitalphotos.net)