What is Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease is a common cause of active children’s heel pain. Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, occurs when excessive forces injure the growth plate of the heel during early adolescence.
What Causes Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in physically active growing kids. It usually occurs during the growth spurt of adolescence, the approximately 2-year period in early puberty when kids grow most rapidly. This growth spurt can begin anytime between the ages of 8 to 13 for girls and 10 to 15 for boys.
Peak incidences are:
- Girls: 8 to 10 years of age.
- Boys: 10 to 12 years of age.
Sever’s Disease Symptoms
As a parent, you may notice your child limping while walking or running awkwardly. If you ask them to rise onto their tiptoes, their heel pain usually increases. In Sever’s disease, pain can be in one or both heels.
How is Sever’s Disease Diagnosed?
Sever’s disease can be diagnosed based on your history and symptoms. Clinically, your physiotherapist will perform a “squeeze test” and some other tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Some children suffer Sever’s disease even though they do less exercise than others. This fact indicates that it is not just a training volume that is at play. Foot and leg biomechanics are a predisposing factor.
The main factors thought to predispose a child to Sever’s disease include:
- A decreased ankle dorsiflexion range.
- Abnormal hindfoot motion. e.g. overpronation or supination.
- Tight calf muscles.
- Excessive weight-bearing activities, e.g. running.
For specific advice regarding your suspected Sever’s Disease, please seek the professional advice of your trusted physiotherapist or doctor.
What’s the Treatment for Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease treatment should ease or eliminate pain while restoring standard foot and leg biomechanics.
Phase 1 – Early Injury Protection: Pain Relief & Anti-inflammatory Tips
As with most soft tissue injuries, the initial treatment is Rest, Ice, and Protect.
In the early phase, you’ll most likely be unable to walk pain-free. Our first aim is to provide you with some active rest from pain-provoking activities.
“No Pain. No Gain.” does not apply to Sever’s disease. If it hurts, your child is doing too much exercise. Your child should reduce or cease any activity that causes heel pain.
Ice is a simple and effective modality to reduce your pain and swelling. Please apply for 20-30 minutes each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that your injury is warm or hot.
Most children can tolerate paracetamol as pain-reducing medication. Check with your doctor.
Your physiotherapist will guide you. They will utilise a range of pain-relieving techniques, including joint mobilisations for stiff ankle or subtalar joints, massage or electrotherapy, to assist you during this pain-full phase.
Phase 2: Regain Full Range of Motion
Your physiotherapist will identify stiff joints within your foot and ankle complex that they will need to loosen to help you avoid overstress. A sign that you may have a stiff ankle joint can be a limited range of ankle bend during a squat manoeuvre. Your physiotherapist will guide you.
Phase 3: Restore Foot Arch Muscle Control
Your foot arch requires dynamic control. Your essential foot arch muscles could be weak or have poor endurance. These foot muscles have a vital role as the main dynamically stable base for your foot and prevent excessive loading through your plantar fascia.
Any deficiencies will be an essential component of your rehabilitation. Your physiotherapist is an expert in the assessment and correction of your dynamic foot control. They will help you correct your normal foot biomechanics and provide you with foot stabilisation exercises if necessary.
Phase 4: Restore Normal Calf & Leg Muscle Control
You may find it challenging to comprehend, but all of your leg (calf, thigh and hip) muscles play an essential role in controlling your foot arch and its normal function. Your physiotherapist will assess your leg muscle function and provide you with the necessary treatment or exercises as required.
Phase 5: Restore Normal Foot Biomechanics
Your foot biomechanics are the main predisposing factor to Sever’s disease. After a biomechanical assessment, your physiotherapist may recommend an orthotic. This orthotic may be an off the shelf orthotic or a custom made orthotic prescribed by a podiatrist.
Phase 6: Improve Your Running and Landing Technique
To prevent a recurrence as you return to sport, your physiotherapist will guide you with technique correction and exercises to address these critical rehabilitation components to prevent a recurrence and improve your sporting performance.
Your physiotherapist will discuss your goals, time frames and training schedules with you to optimise you for a complete return to sport.
Phase 7: Footwear Analysis
Poorly designed footwear can predispose you to injury. Seek the professional advice of your healthcare practitioner
What about Orthotics or Heel Cups?
Occasionally, a prescribed orthotic may be a temporary or long-term correction of their foot biomechanics (e.g. flat feet or high arches).
During the acute phase of Sever’s disease, a small heel rise or shock-absorbing heel cup placed under the heel pad of your child’s foot may help to ease the symptoms.
Your podiatrist or physiotherapist can assess your child’s arch and guide you in the best management of your child’s condition. We recommend that your child should never go barefooted during the painful stages of Sever’s disease.
What are the Long-Term Consequences of Sever’s Disease?
Poorly treated Sever’s disease can result in a permanent bone deformity at the rear of the heel bone. Long-term, this can cause shoe-fitting difficulties and blisters.
Less obvious long-term effects can include foot arch problems leading to plantar fasciitis or heel spurs and tight calf musculature leading to Achilles tendonitis.
How Can You Prevent Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease prevention focuses on maintaining good joint and muscle flexibility in the years leading up to and during their growth spurts (e.g. girls 8 to 10, boys 10 to 12).
Foot arch problems such as flat feet should be addressed after five years of age if they don’t appear to be self-correcting. If you are concerned, please ask your health practitioner. The most crucial factor is the amount of weight-bearing exercise your child is currently performing.
Finally, LISTEN To Your Child!
If your child is suffering heel pain between the ages of 8 to 12, suspect Sever’s disease until proven otherwise. Seek the professional opinion of your chosen foot healthcare practitioner, such as your youth sports injury physiotherapist or a sports podiatrist. They will guide your Severs’ disease management.
Common Heel Pain & Injury Conditions
Traumatic Ankle Ligament Injuries
- Achilles Tendon Rupture
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- FHL Tendinopathy
- Peroneal Tendinopathy
- Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
- Ankle Fracture (Broken Ankle)
- Stress Fracture
- Stress Fracture Feet
- Severs Disease
- Heel Spur
- Shin Splints
Soft Tissue Inflammation
Common Treatments For Foot PainWith accurate assessment and early treatment, most foot pain responds extremely quickly to physiotherapy allowing you to quickly resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living. Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.
- Early Injury Treatment
- Avoid the HARM Factors
- Walking Boot
- Brace or Support
- Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
Subacute Treatment Options
- Acupuncture and Dry Needling
- Joint Mobilisation Techniques
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
Other Treatment Options
- Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
- Strength Exercises
- Stretching Exercises
- Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
- Gait Analysis
- Running Analysis
- Video Analysis
- Biomechanical Analysis
- Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
FAQs about Sever’s Disease
What is the PhysioWorks Difference?
You'll be impressed with the experienced physiotherapists, massage therapists, allied health team and reception staff who represent PhysioWorks.
To ensure that we remain highly qualified, PhysioWorks is committed to participating in continuing education to provide optimal care.
If you've been searching for health practitioners with a serious interest in your rehabilitation or injury prevention program, our staff have either participated or are still participating in competitive sports at a representative level.
We also currently provide physiotherapy and massage services for numerous sports clubs. Our experience helps us understand what you need to do to safely and quickly return to your sporting field, home duties, or employment.
How You'll Benefit from the PhysioWorks Difference?
At PhysioWorks physiotherapy and massage clinics, we strive to offer our clients quick, effective and long-lasting results by providing high-quality treatment.
We aim to get you better quicker in a friendly and caring environment conducive to successful healing.
With many years of clinical experience, our friendly service and quality treatment is a benchmark not only in Brisbane but Australia-wide.
What are Some of the BIG Differences?
Our therapists pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest research and treatment skills to ensure that they provide you with the most advantageous treatment methods. They are continually updating their knowledge via seminars, conferences, workshops, scientific journals etc.
Not only will you receive a detailed consultation, but we offer long-term solutions, not just quick fixes that, in reality, only last for a short time.
We attempt to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
PhysioWorks clinics are modern thinking. Not only in their appearance but in the equipment we use and in our therapists' knowledge.
Our staff care about you! We are always willing to go that 'extra mile' to guarantee that we cater to our client's unique needs.
All in all, we feel that your chances of the correct diagnosis, the most effective treatment and the best outcomes are all the better at PhysioWorks.
Common Youth Leg Injuries
Why are Children's Injuries Different to Adults?Adolescent injuries differ from adult injuries, mainly because the bones are still growing. The growth plates (physis) are cartilaginous (strong connective tissue) areas of the bones from which the bones elongate or enlarge. Repetitive stress or sudden large forces can cause injury to these areas.
Common Adolescent Leg InjuriesIn the adolescent leg, common injuries include:
Osgood-Schlatter's DiseasePain at the bump just below the knee cap (tibia tubercle). Overuse injuries commonly occur here. The tibia tubercle is the anchor point of your mighty quadriceps (thigh) muscles. It is because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon pulls bone off and forms a painful lump that will remain forever. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy. More info: Osgood Schlatter's Disease
Sinding-Larsen-Johansson DiseasePain at the lower pole of the knee cap (patella). Overstraining causes Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease. It is because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon pulls bone off the knee cap. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy. More info: Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome
Anterior Knee PainAnterior knee pain or patellofemoral syndrome frequently gets passed off as growing pains. Cause of this pain includes overuse, muscle imbalance, poor flexibility, poor alignment, or more commonly, a combination of these. Anterior knee pain is one of the most challenging adolescent knee injuries to sort out and treat. Accurate diagnosis and treatment with the assistance of a physiotherapist with a particular interest in this problem usually resolves the condition quickly. More info: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Knee LigamentsThe cartilage between the leg bones have a better blood supply and are more elastic in adolescents than in adults. As adolescents near the end of bone growth, their injuries become more adult-like, hence more meniscal and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are likely. MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries result from a lateral blow to the knee. Pain felt on the inner side (medially) of the knee. MCL injuries respond well to protective bracing and conservative treatment. More info: Knee Ligament Injuries
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuriesThis traumatic knee injury is significant. Non-contact injuries of the ACL are becoming more common than contact injuries of the ACL. Adolescent females are at high risk. Combination injuries with MCL or menisci are common. Surgical reconstruction is needed if the adolescent wishes to continue participating in "stop-and-start" sports. More info: ACL Injury
Meniscal injuriesYour meniscus is crescent-shaped cartilage between the thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). Meniscal injuries usually result from twisting. Swelling, catching, and locking of the knee are common. If physiotherapy treatment does not resolve these types of damages within six weeks, they may require arthroscopic surgery. More info: Meniscus Tear, Discoid Meniscus
Sever's DiseaseHeel pain is commonplace in young adolescents due to the stresses of their Achilles tendon pulling upon its bony insertion point on the heel (calcaneum). It is a common overuse injury as a result of excessive volume of training and competition, particularly when loads are increased dramatically in a short period. Diminished flexibility and muscle-tendon strength mismatching may predispose you. Physiotherapy, reduced activity, taping and orthotics are some of the best ways to manage this debilitating condition for the active young athlete. More info: Sever's Disease
Ankle SprainAn ankle sprain is probably the most common injury seen in sports. Ankles sprains involve stretching of the ligaments and usually occur when the foot twists inward. Treatment includes active rest, ice, compression and physiotherapy rehabilitation. An ankle sprain usually improves in 2-6 weeks with the correct treatment. Your ankle physiotherapist should check even simple ankle sprains. A residually stiff ankle post-sprain can predispose you to several other lower limb issues More info: Sprained Ankle
Patellar InstabilityPatellar (kneecap) instability can range from partial dislocation (subluxation) to dislocation with a fracture. Partial dislocation treatment is conservative. Dislocation with or without fracture is a much more severe injury and usually will require surgery. More info: Patella Dislocation
Osteochondritis DissecansThe separation of a piece of bone from its bed in the knee joint is Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). This injury is usually due to one major macro event with repetitive macro trauma that prevents complete healing. This injury is potentially severe. Treatment varies from rest to surgery. An Orthopaedic Surgeon's opinion is vital. More info: Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans (JOCD)
Growth Plate FracturesA fracture through the growth plate can be a severe injury that can stop the bone from growing correctly. These fractures should be treated by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, as some will require surgery.
Image source: https://radiologyassistant.nl/pediatrics/hip/hip-pathology-in-childrenAn avulsion fracture occurs when a small segment of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main bone. The hip, elbow and ankle are the most common locations for lower limb avulsion fractures in the young sportsperson. Treatment of an avulsion fracture typically includes active rest, ice and protecting the affected area. This period of active rest is followed by controlled exercises that help restore range of motion, improve muscle strength and promote bone healing. Your physiotherapist should supervise your post-avulsion exercises. Most avulsion fractures heal very well. You may need to spend a few weeks on crutches if you have an avulsion fracture around your hip. An avulsion fracture to your foot or ankle may require a cast or walking boot. In rare cases, an excessive gap between the avulsed bone fragment and main bone may not rejoin naturally. Surgery may be necessary to reunite them. In children, avulsion fractures that involve the growth plates also might require surgery. All avulsion fractures should be reviewed and managed by your trusted physiotherapist or an Orthopaedic Surgeon. For more information regarding your youth sports injury, please consult your physiotherapist or doctor.
Common Youth Leg Injuries
Pelvis & Hip
- Osgood Schlatter's Disease
- Sinding Larsen Johannson Disease
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Patella Dislocation
- Meniscus Tear
- Discoid Meniscus
- Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans
Heel & Ankle
Common Youth & Teenager Sports InjuriesCommon Youth Neck & Back Pain Common Youth Arm Injuries
Sports Injury Management
You probably already know that a sports injury can affect not only your performance but also your lifestyle. The latest research continues to change sports injury management considerably. Our challenge is to keep up to date with the latest research and put them to work for you.
How we treated you last year could vary significantly to how we treat you this year. The good news is that you can benefit considerably from our knowledge.
What Should You Do When You Suffer a Sports Injury?
Rest from painful exercise or a movement is essential in the early injury stage. "No pain. No gain." does not apply in most cases. The rule of thumb is - don't do anything that reproduces your pain for the initial two or three days. After that, you need to get it moving, or other problems will develop.
Ice or Heat?
We usually recommend avoiding heat (and heat rubs) in the first 48 hours of injury. The heat encourages bleeding, which could be detrimental if used too early. In traumatic injuries, such as ligament sprains, muscle tears or bruising, ice should help reduce your pain and swelling.
Once the "heat" has come out of your injury, you can use heat packs. We recommend 20-minute applications a few times a day to increase the blood flow and hasten your healing rate. The heat will also help your muscles relax and ease your pain. If you're not sure what to do, please call us to discuss your situation specifically.
Should You Use a Compressive Bandage?
Yes. A compressive bandage will help to control swelling and bleeding in the first few days. In most cases, the compressive dressing will also help support the injury as you lay down the new scar tissue. This early healing should help to reduce your pain. Some injuries will benefit from more rigid support such as a brace or strapping tape. Please ask us if you are uncertain about what to do next.
Gravity will encourage swelling to settle at the lowest point. Elevation of an injury in the first few days is beneficial, especially for ankle or hand injuries. Think where your damage is and where your heart is. Try to rest your injury above your heart.
What Medication Should You Use?
Your Doctor or Pharmacist may recommend pain killers or an anti-inflammatory drug. It is best to seek their professional advice as certain medications can interfere with other health conditions, especially asthmatics.
When Should You Commence Physio?
In most cases, "the early bird gets the worm". Researchers have found that the intervention of physiotherapy treatment within a few days has many benefits. These include:
- Relieving your pain quicker via joint mobility techniques, massage and electrotherapy
- Improving your scar tissue using techniques to guide the direction it forms
- Getting you back to sport or work quicker through faster healing rates
- Loosening or strengthening of your injured region with individually prescribed exercises
- Improving your performance when you return to sport - we'll detect and help you correct any biomechanical faults that may affect your technique or predispose you to injury.
What If You Do Nothing?
Research tells us that injuries left untreated take longer to heal and have lingering pain. They are also more likely to recur and leave you with either joint stiffness or muscle weakness. It's important to remember that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your symptoms, the better your outcome.
What About Arthritis?
Previously injured joints can prematurely become arthritic through neglect. Generally, there are four main reasons why you develop arthritis:
- An inappropriately treated previous injury (e.g. old joint or ligament sprains)
- Poor joint positioning (biomechanical faults)
- Stiff joints (lack of movement diminishes joint nutrition)
- Loose joints (excessive sloppiness causes joint damage through poor control)
What About Your Return to Sport?
Your physiotherapist will guide you safely back to the level of sport at which you wish to participate. If you need guidance, ask us.
What If You Need Surgery or X-rays?
Not only will your physio diagnose your sports injury and give you the "peace of mind" associated, but they'll also refer you elsewhere if that's what's best for you. Think about it. You could be suffering needlessly from a sports injury. Please use our advice to guide you out of pain quicker. And for a lot longer.
If you have any questions regarding your sports injury (or any other condition), please contact your physiotherapist to discuss. You'll find our friendly staff happy to point you in the right direction.
What is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, allow patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing daily living activities while assisting them to remain functionally independent.
There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.
Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management
Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:
- Joint Mobilisation (gentle joint gliding techniques)
- Joint Manipulation
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Minimal Energy Techniques (METs)
- Soft Tissue Techniques
Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, to name a few.
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.
Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.
Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you, depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.
- Muscle Stretching
- Core Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.
Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.
Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.
Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.
Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.
Plus Much More
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.