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What Every Youth Sports Coach Needs to Know about Sever’s Disease and Heel Pain in Children

As a youth sports coach, you play a crucial role in your young athletes’ health and development. One condition you should be aware of is Sever’s disease, the most common cause of heel pain in kids. This guide will help you understand, recognize, and respond to Sever’s disease in your young athletes.

What is Sever’s Disease?

Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is not actually a disease. It’s a painful condition affecting the heel’s growth plate in children, typically between ages 7 and 15. It’s especially common in kids who play sports involving running and jumping.

Quick Facts About Sever’s Disease

  • It causes 90% of heel pain cases in children.
  • It’s most common in active kids aged 7-15.
  • It can affect one or both heels.
  • It’s often mistaken for plantar fasciitis in kids (which is very rare).

What Causes Sever’s Disease?

Sever’s disease happens during growth spurts. The heel bone grows faster than the surrounding muscles and tendons, causing them to become tight and stretched. This leads to pain and inflammation in the heel.

Symptoms to Watch For

As a coach, look out for these signs in your athletes:

  1. Heel pain that gets worse during or after physical activity
  2. Limping or walking on tiptoes
  3. Trouble running, jumping, or participating in usual sports activities
  4. Pain when the sides of the heel are squeezed
  5. Stiffness in the feet when waking up

Acute vs. Chronic Sever’s Disease

It’s important to understand the difference:

  • Acute Sever’s Disease:
    • Lasts a few weeks to a couple of months
    • Often gets better with rest, ice, and stretching
    • May need temporary changes in sports activities
  • Chronic Sever’s Disease:
    • Lasts several months or longer
    • Doesn’t get better with simple treatments
    • Can really affect a child’s ability to play sports
    • May need more aggressive treatment

How Sever’s Disease is Diagnosed

A pediatric podiatrist like Dr. Mikkel Jarman diagnoses Sever’s disease. Also it is possible to do a home diagnosis:

This diagnosis of Sever’s is identified easily at the office by simply grasping your child’s heel and squeezing firmly on the sides. This will place pressure on the growth plate and in turn immediately result in discomfort for the child.” – Dr. Mikkel Jarman

Sever’s Disease Treatment

Treatment depends on whether the case is acute or chronic:

For Acute Cases:

  1. Rest and reduced activity for about a week
  2. Over-the-counter pain medications (like ibuprofen)
  3. Changing to more supportive shoes
  4. Using gel heel cups

For Chronic Cases:

The Mikki Device Sever’s Disease Custom Orthotic

For chronic cases that don’t respond to simpler treatments, the Mikki Device offers a comprehensive solution:

  • Custom orthotics that fit into regular shoes and cleats
  • A night brace to stretch the calf and heel tendons during sleep
  • A detailed treatment plan
  • 97% success rate in providing pain relief and recovery
  • Can be used at home without frequent doctor visits
  • One-time cost of $497, often more affordable than multiple medical visits

Your Role as a Coach

Here’s how you can help your athletes with Sever’s disease:

  1. Recognize the signs: Be alert for heel pain or changes in how an athlete runs or walks.
  2. Encourage communication: Make sure your athletes feel comfortable telling you about any pain.
  3. Educate parents: Share information about Sever’s disease and treatment options like the Mikki Device.
  4. Adjust training: Be ready to modify activities for affected athletes, focusing on low-impact exercises when needed.
  5. Promote good footwear: Stress the importance of wearing supportive shoes during sports.
  6. Include stretching: Add calf and Achilles tendon stretches to your warm-up and cool-down routines.

Remember:

  • Heel pain in kids is not normal and should be checked out.
  • Most heel pain in active kids is due to Sever’s disease, but it’s important to get a proper diagnosis.
  • With the right treatment, kids can usually return to their favorite sports pain-free.

By understanding Sever’s disease, you can help your young athletes stay healthy and active. Your awareness and proactive approach can make a big difference in their sports experience and overall foot health.

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All content on PediatricFootAnkle.com is written by or collaborated with Dr. Mikkel Jarman and meets our strict editorial guidelines which include fact checking and peer review.

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