When Your Child Has Sever Disease

Your child has been diagnosed with Sever disease. Sever disease is an irritation of the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel (calcaneus). Constant pulling on the Achilles tendon causes the area to become inflamed. This condition is painful, but with proper care it can be treated.

What causes Sever disease?

Outline of side view of foot showing leg and foot bones and Achilles tendon connected to heel bone (calcaneus). Lower part of tendon is inflamed.

Activities that require a lot of running and jumping cause the Achilles tendon to pull on the heel. This can lead to soreness and pain. Sports, such as basketball and soccer, put players at risk of Sever disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of Sever disease?

Symptoms often appear at the beginning of a sport’s season. This is because the tendons and muscles aren’t ready for the stress of running and jumping. Symptoms include:

  • Heel pain with activity

  • Heel pain after activity

  • Limping

How is Sever disease diagnosed?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and examine your child. During the exam, the healthcare provider checks your child's heel for tenderness and pain. An X-ray may also be taken to evaluate the heel bone and rule out other problems.

How is Sever disease treated?

The healthcare provider will talk with you about the best treatment plan for your child. As instructed, your child will:

Closeup of hands holding ice pack around ankle. Sock is covering foot and ankle.
Resting and icing the heel can help relieve pain.

  • Ice the heel 3 to 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas, or something similar. Never put ice directly on your child's skin. A thin cloth or towel should be between your child’s skin and the ice pack.

  • Take anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed.

  • Decrease the amount of running and jumping he or she does.

  • Stretch the heels and calves, as instructed by the healthcare provider. Regular stretching can help prevent Sever disease from coming back.

  • Use a “heel cup” or a cushioned shoe insert that takes pressure off the heel.

In some cases, a cast is placed on the foot and worn for several weeks.

What are the long-term concerns?

With proper treatment, the injury should heal without any long-term concerns.

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