Podiatrists Treating Heel Pain and Severs' Disease
Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Severs’ disease is a condition that primarily affects children between the ages of 7 and 15. The condition is typified by pain in the heel which can affect movement, and as a foot condition, comes under the care of podiatrists. Podiatrists are specially trained professionals who specialise in any and all ailments of the foot and ankle. Podiatrists dealing with Severs’ disease are typically podopaediatricians, individuals who have received training in the delivery of childhood care.
What is Severs’ Disease?
Severs’ disease usually presents with pain in either one or both of a sufferer’s heels. The area can be sore or tender, particularly first thing in the morning or after squeezing. Because the pain is focussed on the heel, an important part of the foot that makes contact with the ground through virtually all movement, sufferers often have to limp to alleviate their discomfort.
The pain of Severs’ disease is at its worst after any exertion that involves contact between a heel and the ground, particularly strenuous exercise like running or sport.
The condition is caused by the wear and tear of structures in the heel, most significantly the heel bone and any attached tendons. Severs’ disease is prevalent in young children who are extremely active, particularly as the heel and its attached tendons are still growing in the age group the condition most commonly affects (7-14).
How does podiatry treat Severs’ disease?
Fortunately Severs’ disease can be treated and prevented through a number of different techniques that have all proven highly effective. The heel will repair itself even without active treatment provided that the suffering foot is given a chance to heal. Typically Severs’ disease will take 2-8 weeks, although in many cases it can take longer as the continuous growing of the bone can exacerbate the condition.
Podiatrists have an important role in preventing Severs’ disease in young athletes, and in treating the condition when it develops so children can get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Generally treatment involves stretching muscles running down to the heel to relieve tension and pain, these include the hamstrings and calf muscles, and these stretching exercises will need to be performed at least 2 or 3 times a day.
RICE is a classic method of speeding up the recovery of self-healing injuries like Severs’ disease. This involves Rest, the application of Ice to the injury, Compression, and finally Elevation to encourage repaid. These measures can be advised by a trained podiatrist, but it is then up to a child to carry on with regular RICE.
Podiatrists have an important role in the provision of orthotics to young sufferers of Severs’ disease. Orthotics are specialised insoles designed to accommodate problems with the foot. In this particular condition’s case, orthotics are an effective way of making sure that the heel is cushioned in such a way as to reduce a child’s discomfort and alleviate some of the pressure of walking, thereby facilitating the recovery process.
Young athletes can benefit from a visit to a podiatrist to learn about prevention and to have orthotics fitted to prevent Severs’ disease from developing. Regular stretching to keep joints supple and loose are a great preventative measure, as is making sure that appropriately fitted and supportive shoes (often equipped with orthotics) are used to prevent future injury.
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