Hey there, young athletes and caring parents! Today, we are diving into a topic that might sound complicated, but together we will conquer that pesky heel pain called Sever’s Disease or Calcaneal Apophysitis. We will explore some easy and effective at-home treatment options to get your child on the path to healing and back to their active life!
Understanding Sever’s Disease
First, let’s talk about Sever’s Disease. It is a fancy name for heel pain that most commonly affects kids between the ages of 6 and 13, especially those active youngsters who enjoy sports and active play. While Sever’s disease used to affect boys more often, with the increase in female sporting activities, the occurrence of the disease in girls has drastically increased.
Why Does It Hurt?
As you run, jump, and play, that growth plate in your heel is under a lot of stress and increased pressure. Sometimes, all of that activity can irritate it causing pain in the back or bottom of the heel. Ouch!
Feeling the Pain
You might feel a dull ache, especially during or after sports. Walking might be tricky, and you might even develop a slight limp to avoid the pain and pressure that occurs when you put all your weight on the injured foot.
Checking for Sever’s Disease
When you visit your local podiatrist, they will examine your heel and will likely get x-rays to confirm the diagnosis. A thorough clinical examination is important to help differentiate the diagnosis from other possible ailments that can cause heel pain.
One of the most reliable ways to combat Sever’s Disease at home is by stretching. Try these stretches:
1. Stretch Band: Place a stretch band under the ball of the foot and pull it towards you. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times. This stretch helps the back of your leg, where the Achilles tendon meets your heel.
2. Calf Stretch: Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Hold for 30 seconds with your knees straight, and then with your knees bent. This stretch targets the calf muscles, which when tight can pull at the growth plate on your heel.
3. Massage Magic: Roll a ball under your foot, which acts as a mini massage that can help stretch the main ligament attached to your heel and help relieve the pain.
Cushion and Support Your Heel
Gel heel cushions or over-the-counter insoles can be a great support to relieve pressure on the feet but beware not all insoles are made alike. Many of the inserts that you can find on the shelf at your neighborhood pharmacy are not as supportive as they seem and if incorrectly sized could make the problem worse. If the correct orthotics or heel lifts are selected, they slip into your shoes and provide significant pain relief that your heels will thank you for.
Tape Can Be a Helper
Have you ever seen athletes with colorful tape on their bodies? Well, that tape can work wonders for your heel. It is like giving your heel a comfy hug, holding things in place, and providing compression to the area experiencing the most swelling.
Sometimes, you might need a little extra help to combat the inflammation and swelling caused by Sever’s disease. When this is needed, your podiatrist might suggest something special, like corticosteroids to calm down the inflammation and alleviate the pain.
Night splints, while bulky, provide excellent passive stretching while you sleep. These boot-like devices keep your feet in the right position while you sleep, so you wake up feeling better with the muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretched.
With these at-home strategies, you are well on your way to defeating Sever’s disease. Remember, your feet are amazing and strong, but sometimes your body cannot heal on its own continuing activity the way you are used to. When your child’s heels are limiting their activity and causing noticeable pain it is time to see a podiatrist. They are here to help get your child back to playing the sport they love and having fun in no time!