Heel pain (Sever’s Disease)
Technically known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever’s Disease normally makes itself known by causing a pain in the heel. It’s a result of inflammation at a point in the heel called the calcaneal apophysis (growth plate), which is the centre for new bone formation. Since the area is relatively weak, any repetitive stress on the area can lead to inflammation. This means that children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old are especially prone, because the heel bone (calcaneus) is not properly developed until at least age 14. In fact, Sever’s Disease is the most common cause of heel pain in children, and about half of those affected have it in both feet.
What causes heel pain?
Sporting activities are often at the root of heel pain, because of the large forces applied to the foot in general, and heel in particular. However, a tight Achilles tendon may also be a contributing factor, as can biomechanical abnormalities such as flat feet. People affected by the condition are often tempted to walk on tiptoes to alleviate the pressure on the heel, but this can be self-defeating as it causes the Achilles tendon to pull on the heel, usually resulting in more pain. The best course is to have a professional diagnosis, which will be based on a full medical history of the patient, as well as the presenting symptoms.
Treatment for Heel pain
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that will actually prevent Sever’s Disease, though it usually disappears when the heel bone matures – the best that can be done for sufferers is to treat the condition sensibly. And one of the most sensible, and effective, treatments is also the simplest – which is to cut down on the activities that cause the pain. However, the use of a heel support can also help, by absorbing the shock and reducing pain. Other treatments include stretching the calf muscles and medication that reduces pain and inflammation. The application of an ice pack to the area for ten minutes or so, and/or elevating the leg after vigorous activity can also be effective.