Severs Disease ( calcaneal apophysitis) is a very common and very painful ankle/heel injury that affects young athletes, usually between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. Generally, athletes that play sports such as soccer, basketball, field hockey and football, all that require a lot of running and change of direction, are prime candidates to suffer from Severs disease. It can also present itself during a growth spurt as well.
What is Severs disease exactly? Well, it's an injury more than a disease. It is caused by high impact force being placed on the growth plates of the heel. As the growth plates mature in young and adolescent children, the areas of the bone that haven't fully hardened will become inflamed. The pain can be dull to quite excruciating. Tight Achilles muscles can also be also factor. In the X-Ray below you can see the inflamed growth plate area. Also, notice the tiny gap between the growth plate and the rest of the heel.
What can you do to prevent Severs disease? Besides making sure your young athlete is stretching their calf muscles daily and correctly, not much. Traditionally, most Severs disease sufferers, rest, ice and OTC anti-inflammatories will help. For some, especially athletes in the middle of a growth spurt, physical therapy may be required.
How can physical therapy help? At Physical Therapy of Woburn, we will perform a full lower extremity evaluation of your athlete. Our Physical Therapists will check out the hips, knees, ankle and arches of the feet, to see if any anomalies may be contributing to the injury. First and most importantly, we will use the correct thermal modalities to help reduce the pain and inflammation around the heels. Manual therapies like Myofascial Release, Joint Mobilizations and Passive Stretching may also be utilized as needed. Your athlete will be placed into a training program that will include a well balanced stretching program, a progressing strengthening program and then add sport specific drills and activities to help make returning to the field a smoother one.
Recovery length depends on the athlete and severity of the Severs disease. Trust us, we want your athlete back on the field ASAP as well. However, pushing it too early could lead to set backs. That's why it's our responsibility to allow the healing process take it's correct course. Even when the athlete is discharged from our care, it's not always "Good Bye". Most parents have found that bringing in their athletes once or twice a month after they are discharged from our program for maintenance and training. That's what we are most proud of. The trust parents put in us for their children, regardless of age.
If your athlete is complaining of heel pain, and is having difficulty putting full weight on their feet. Bring them to their PCP or Urgent care, get and X-Ray to rule out any fractures. We will gladly schedulel them ASAP to help their recovery along.