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What is Sever’s Disease?

Parents are understandably concerned when their child has been given a diagnosis of Sever’s disease from their family doctor or pediatrician.

Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. It is commonly seen in active children between the ages of 8 and 15 years. These children present with pain when walking, running and jumping. Observable inflammation may or may not be present and parents may often notice their child limping or favouring a limb during or after sports.

Firstly, my recommendation is not to panic! I often wish they would eliminate the ‘disease’ part of Sever’s.

Secondly, physiotherapy can most definitely help! After assessing any biomechanical abnormalities that may be a contributing factor, I often recommend calf stretching. This consists of both the deep and superficial layers of muscles that need to be stretched. By keeping the calf muscles flexible, this will help to minimize excessive ‘pull’ on the heel’s growth plate. Cushion heel cups that are fitted properly and used during activities may also be used. This will help to minimize excessive pounding at the heel. Iceing for approximately 10 minutes post activities may also help to reduce painful symptoms.

Lastly, manual therapies and taping techniques can be used to reduce the inflammation associated with a “flare” of the symptoms of Sever’s. So often a few weeks of physiotherapy may dramatically help to get your child back to sports.

Relax, many treatment options are available!

Marni Pepper

About Marni Pepper

Marni Pepper is a physiotherapist with over 15 years of experience in orthopedics treating children and adults. She graduated with honours from the University of Toronto’s four year physiotherapy program. For 10 years, Marni worked directly with orthopedic surgeons at the Canadian Knee Institute where they specialized in ACL and meniscal repairs, osteotomies, joint replacements and other post-surgical rehabilitation.

Learn more about Marni Pepper

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