Severs disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is a self-limiting condition seen in physically active children. Although there is controversy about the radiographic appearance, some reports propose the
importance of fragmentation of the secondary nucleus in the diagnosis of Severs disease. We studied secondary nucleus of the calcaneus with ultrasonography. Twenty-one symptomatic heels of 14
children were examined. All these heels showed fragmentation of the secondary nucleus on both conventional radiograph and sonography. Ultrasonographic examination also showed 2 retrocalcaneal
bursitis. Our initial data showed that sonography may be valuable in the diagnosis of Severs disease.
There are several theories as to the cause of this condition. These range from a tight Achilles tendon, to micro stress fractures of the calcaneal apopyhsis. The prevailing theory suggests that the
condition occurs when the child's growth plate is at its weakest. Combined with increased athletic activity, improper shoe gear and trauma the heel becomes inflamed and painful.
The patient complains of activity related pain that usually settles with rest. On Examination the heel bone - or calcaneum - is tender on one or both sides. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf
muscles) may be tight and bending of the ankle might be limited because of that. Foot pronation (rolling in) often exacerbates the problem. There is rarely anything to see and with no redness or
swelling and a pain that comes and goes mum and dad often wait before seeking advice on this condition. The pain may come on partway through a game and get worse or come at the end of the game.
Initially pain will be related only to activity but as it gets worse the soreness will still be there the next morning and the child might limp on first getting up.
The x-ray appearance usually shows the apophysis to be divided into multiple parts. Sometimes a series of small fragments is noted. Asymptomatic heels may also show x-ray findings of resporption,
fragmentation and increased density. But they occur much less often in the normal foot. Pulling or ?traction? of the Achilles tendon on the unossified growth plate is a likely contributing factor to
Sever?s disease. Excessive pronation and a tight Achilles and limited dorsiflexion may also contribute to the development of this condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
The doctor will talk with you about the best treatment plan for your child. As instructed, your child will Ice the heel 3-4 times a day for 15-20 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 medication, 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 doctor. Regular stretching can help prevent Sever?s 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.