There are some things that only kids truly “get.” Some examples: the seemingly random strings of numbers and letters that comprise most text messages, or the ability to enjoy the Disney film Frozen as much on the 40th viewing as the first. Another thing that only kids get? Sever’s disease—a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the heels.
The problem exclusively affects children because, unlike adults, their bones are still growing and developing. As kids grow, the growth plate at the backs of their heels continues to form new bone from the existing cartilage. By the time they reach 14-16 years old their feet are usually fully developed, but until then the exposed growth plate is especially sensitive to repeated stress and pounding from running, jumping, and sports.
The pace at which varying structures grow can also contribute to the development of a case of Sever’s disease. Feet tend to be one of the first parts of a child’s body to reach adult size. If the heel grows faster than the tendons, ligaments, and other structures that connect to it, the result can be extra tightness, tugging, and pressure at the back of the foot. That’s why adolescents in the midst of a growth spurt are especially vulnerable to this problem.
The good news is that, unlike some chronic heel pain conditions that affect adults, Sever’s disease is only a temporary nuisance that will disappear for good once your child has stopped growing. That said, a trained podiatrist can help your child reduce swelling and discomfort from the condition and recover faster, so they can go back to running, jumping, and playing pain-free. To schedule a visit for your child at one of Family Foot and Ankle Center’s six Greater Cincinnati locations, give us a call at 888-689-3317, or request an appointment using our online contact form.