Is your child complaining of heel pain?
Severe’s Disease is inflammation of a growth plate in your child’s heel. It can lead to debilitating heel pain. This growth plate is active approximately between 9-13 years old.
Now, I have absolutely no idea why it’s called a ‘disease’ because it is in no way a scary disease. Let’s refer to it from now on as Severe’s Condition.
Diagnosis of this is done clinically by a Podiatrist. No radiology imaging will help in the diagnosis and it should not be used. If you squeeze gently on both sides of the heel and pain is elicited then this is highly likely to be Severe’s Condition. This particular type of heel pain is very easy to reproduce clinically. There should be no pain directly under the heel. Definitely see a Podiatrist to confirm this as they will check all other structures in your child’s feet and ankles.
This type of heel pain occurs for a number of reasons:
- Tight calf muscles – this usually happens just after a growth spurt and the muscles haven’t had time to catch up to the bones.
- Flat feet
- High impact exercise – basketball, running, netball, soccer (particularly at the start of the season when the grounds are hard). Even if your child doesn’t do any organised sport it’s amazing how much they run around at lunch time!
- Unsupportive footwear
Treatment for Severe’s Disease has had some interesting studies from Melbourne in the past 12 months. We now know that using pre-made orthotics, custom orthotics, heel raises and a new pair of shoes can have significant benefits in reducing pain for your child. The child’s foot type, activity and footwear will determine the treatment plan. Don’t forget some of the best pain relief can come from ice, rest and regular calf stretches.
This is one type of growing pain that I’m passionate about educating people on. Too often have I seen kids struggle with this type of heel pain thinking it is ‘only growing pains’. It may well be due to growth but there is a lot you can do to make their feet more comfortable. Painful feet will also have social and emotional impacts on your child so we want to get this fixed asap!
What’s one positive thing about Severe’s Condition? Once your child turns 13 or 14, the growth plate fuses and they will never get this type of heel pain again!