Heel pain in kids? What actually is sever's disease

This being that time of year when all parents sit around a table and someone say “Not long now”, everyone looks at each other with absolute exhaustion and yet sheer joy, acknowledging with the slightest facial expression what that comment is in reference too. That time being the kids that you love so much but really don’t like so much at the moment are heading back to the parent relief centre or school as it also known to those without kids. 


It is a good time to discuss a very common condition in kids under the ages of 15 that we have seen a lot of in the last 12 months. Its called Sever’s disease. It is a condition that affects the back of the heel bone in active growing kids.


Not actually Dr Sever

Not actually Dr Sever

Firstly I think it’s important to address the word “Disease”. Probably not the best term used here but alas that’s what the spritely young chap Doctor J.W. Sever decided to call it back in 1912 (Please see photo for useless amusing reference). Don’t let the word disease put you off and no need to organise a Sever’s party in your area so all the other kids can catch it before they get older, and yes its ok for little Tom to go and play with Chris after school who has Severs disease, he wont catch it.


Sever’s disease generally comes on gradually and the first signs are your child complaining of sore heels after running around a lot. It is caused by excessive tension being placed through the junction point where the achilles tendon joins into the back of the heel bone creating significant inflammation. As the child starts to have a growth spurt the tibia or shin bone grows so rapidly that the calf musculature at the back is unable to keep up producing a very tight calf and generating that excessive force through the achillies. If picked up early simply stretching the calf group and icing regularly can be enough to fix the problem before the need for any treatment but once it has been left for 3-4 weeks the condition becomes a lot more difficult to resolve.  From experience the more active the child is the worse the condition will gradually become until just walking along becomes very painful.



Most kids will grow out of it in about 12 months if left alone and may develop a bony lump at the back of the heel bone caused by the excessive force alternatively with the right treatment the condition can usually be resolved in between 4-6 weeks allowing them to get back to doing what kids do best. 


If you start to see the early signs of a looming growth spurt, tight calf’s and complaints of sore heels before the next school holidays try and get them in to see your doctor, physio, chiro, osteo or magical sharman before it progresses and the trusty line “Why don’t you go and play outside for a while” looses its benefits.