My child is complaining of ankle pain, could it be Sever’s Disease?

This time of year it’s common for teenagers to complain of new aches and pains, particularly when getting back into their regular sport as they return from summer break, or when starting a new type of physical activity. Growth spurts are also common, and this rapid growing can lead to different areas of pain.

A common condition which we see in this age group, is called Sever’s disease.

Sever’s disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) is a swelling and irritation of the growth plate in the heel. Growth plates are layers of cartilage near the end of a bone where most of the growth happens. It is weaker here, and is at a higher risk for injury compared to the rest of the bone. Sever’s disease is caused by repetitive stress to the heel. It most often occurs during growth spurts, when bones, muscles, tendons, and other structures are changing rapidly.

People with Sever’s may have symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and redness in the heel region
  • Stiffness through the foot and ankle, particularly first thing in the morning
  • Limping due to pain
  • Wanting to walk on their toes instead of walking with the usual heel-toe type movement

Osteopathic Treatment for Sever’s Disease

Your osteopath will thoroughly examine your foot, heel, ankle and rest of the lower limb to determine whether the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing is due to Sever’s. They will use a combination of hands-on treatment techniques which may include soft tissue massage, stretching and joint traction, and will provide at-home advice and management strategies. Below we have a video where our osteopath Dr James Clark demonstrate and explain Sever’s, and how we manage it for our Total Balance patients!

Management strategies for Sever’s Disease

The tip to managing Sever’s, is to manage physical activity. Usually we see Sever’s in the very active population, and cutting down exercise or activity by even one day can really help to control pain levels. Your osteopath may also suggest the following management strategies:

  • Icing the area when sore or after activity
  • Using compression socks to help reduce swelling
  • Wearing supportive, well-fitted footwear
  • Strength and rehabilitation is very important for helping you get back onto your feet (literally!) after an injury or when experiencing pain. As I mentioned, Sever’s is a common condition that occurs when adolescents return back to their usual sport, or increase the amount of physical activity they’re participating in.

A running analysis, is something that would be very beneficial in active teenagers who are experiencing any lower limb pain. Our osteopath James can assess your child’s running style to see if there is anything else involved in weight-bearing which may be contributing to their pain. As osteopaths we look hollistically at the body, and there may be other areas (such as the knee, hip or lower back) which aren’t moving effectively that could be contributing to ankle or heel pain.

If you have any questions about Sever’s and how we can help you at Total Balance, give us a call on on (03) 9773 8085! Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.

Talk soon!

Bec @ Total Balance Healthcare



This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

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