What Is Calcaneal Apophysitis?

Overview

Heel pain can also occur in children, most commonly between ages 8 and 15, as they become increasingly active in sports activity in and out of school. This physical activity, particularly jumping, inflames the growth centers of the heels, also known as the apopyhsis. The more active the child, the more likely the condition will occur. Your doctor may also describe the condition as Sever's Disease or calcaneal apophysitis.

Causes

The pain of Severs usually occurs because of inflammation and micro-trauma to the growth plate of the heel bone. This can be caused by a sudden increase in activity, running on very hard surfaces, a growth spurt, tight muscles or feet that roll in.

Symptoms

The most obvious sign of Sever's disease is pain or tenderness in one or both heels, usually at the back. The pain also might extend to the sides and bottom of the heel, ending near the arch of the foot. A child also may have these related problems, swelling and redness in the heel, difficulty walking, discomfort or stiffness in the feet upon awaking, discomfort when the heel is squeezed on both sides, an unusual walk, such as walking with a limp or on tiptoes to avoid putting pressure on the heel. Symptoms are usually worse during or after activity and get better with rest.

Diagnosis

Sever?s disease is diagnosed based on a doctor?s physical examination of the lower leg, ankle, and foot. If the diagnosis is in question, the doctor may order x-rays or an MRI to determine if there are other injuries that may be causing the heel pain.

Non Surgical Treatment

Most patients with Sever?s Disease can be treated with a self-guided home exercise program. Your healthcare provider will discuss with you if a prescription for formal physical therapy is indicated instead of a self-directed home or school exercise program. Rest (protection of the heel). Ice (Ice 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day). Gel heel pads / inserts. Anti-inflammatory medication. Well cushioned pair of shoes. Brace (Cheetah) *Generally given for those who cannot wear shoes during their sport. Low impact aerobic training such as walking, riding a bike, elliptical or swimming. Home exercise program focusing on increasing the flexibility of the heel cord and calf muscle.

Prevention

After the painful symptoms of Sever's disease have gone away, it is important to continue stretching the heel, particularly before a vigorous exercise, and wearing good supportive shoes fitted with children's arch supports. This will prevent heel pain recurrence until the child's heel is fully developed and less prone to injury.

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