Could Your Child’s Heel Pain Be Sever’s Disease?

So it’s back to school here in NYC, and even though it’s a short week, and if your kids are like I was back in the day, they will try to avoid gym class by any means necessary.   For those of us who were down in the last round draft picks for gym teams, it wasn’t as much fun as the chess or future podiatrists club.  Good times indeed.  Anyway, heel pain is a common complaint among the youth of today, and yesterday, and it’s probably not plantar fasciitis, and it is the topic of another fun filled and thrilling blog.

Our bones grow by means of growth plates, which are cartilaginous areas, typically on the end of the long bones that germinate new bone.  Other bones have secondary growth centers that are separate from the bone and join the larger bone around the time of skeletal maturity.  The heel bone is in the latter category.  It is a large bone of a curious shape that is designed to absorb the forces of walking, running, and the traumas of life.  A secondary growth center is present on the back of the heel close to the bottom of the foot, and this growth center joins the bone at around age 8-13.  As the growth center joins the heel bone it may become inflamed, a condition called Sever’s disease.

This condition is usually seen in adolescents who complain of pain in the back of the heel after activity.  As it is a self-limiting condition that resolves within a few months, treatment usually consists of supportive shoes and anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen.  Heel cups, readily available at any pharmacy can help relieve the pain by stabilizing the heel.  In cases of severe pain, a walking fracture boot or even a below knee fiberglass cast will relieve all pressure from the area and allow the heel bone to heal (pun intended).

So while it’s possible the 110 degree fever as evidenced by the thermometer that may just have been placed in hot water is less than accurate, heel pain could quite possibly be real.  And fear not, the condition generally progresses to full healing, and our NYC podiatry office is happy to provide a note excusing the young ones from gym.  Who knows – they may grow up to be a podiatrist who runs.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson