Sever’s Disease

Sever’s disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) is a common cause of heel pain in children ages 8-15, especially if they tend to be physically active. 

Although “disease” is in its common name, this is not a condition that your child contracts like a viral or bacterial illness. Instead, Sever’s is closer to what you might consider a “growing pain.” 

No matter how you refer to it, however, it is important to address Sever’s disease properly. Doing so will help your child get back to full comfort and mobility without this problem holding them back.

What is Sever’s Disease?

Sever’s disease occurs when the growth plate of the heel experiences trauma, typically through impacts or repetitive stress.

As a child matures, many bones have an exposed growth plate where new bone is generated. In the heel, this area is located in the lower back of the bone. 

Until growth of the heel bone is complete, the growth plate is vulnerable to stress and impacts. Children who are more active in sports – especially those involving a lot of running and jumping – tend to be at high risk. But a child does not necessarily need to be extremely active to develop Sever’s disease. As the heel grows, it can outpace connected ligaments and muscles, which can cause excess pulling on the heel and also result in trauma.

sever's disease

What are the Symptoms of Sever’s Disease?

  • Pain and tenderness in the back of the heel (although it may reach to the sides and bottom of the heel as well). Pain tends to be worse after running, and might result in limping.
  • Tenderness when pressing on the back of the heel.
  • Swelling and redness in the heel area.
  • Stiffness in the heel when getting up in the morning or after long periods of inactivity.

Symptoms can be present in one or both heels, and not all symptoms must be present for a diagnosis to be made.

It can also be somewhat difficult at times to know exactly how your child is feeling, especially if they are reluctant or afraid to discuss all of their symptoms with you. Look for signs such as the limping we noted above, or a reluctance to participate as fully in beloved activities.

sever's disease

How is Sever’s Disease Treated?

Any instance of persistent heel pain in your child is worth contacting us about. Whether the condition is Sever’s disease or not, it is important to know what is going on and how to properly address it.

We can often easily diagnose Sever’s disease via a physical examination. In some cases, we might order an X-ray or other imaging test to rule out other potential problems, such as stress fractures.

Sever’s disease is not a serious condition, but it is one that must be allowed to heal. This will almost always require a period of reduced or prohibited activity, which we know many children (and parents) may not like to hear. However, not providing an opportunity for recovery can extend or even worsen the existing problem.

Fortunately, “resting” does not mean doing nothing the whole time. We work with families to help find lower-impact exercises and routines that can keep kids moving with much lower risks.

Additional treatment recommendations may include:

  • Changes to footwear
  • Pain relief medication
  • Cold therapy
  • Stretches and exercises to condition connected ligaments and muscles

We might recommend more advanced treatments such as laser therapy for unique circumstances, but Sever’s disease typically responds well to general treatments alone.

Getting Back to Action, Pain-Free

Sever’s disease might be a common consequence of growing up, but that doesn’t mean your child should endure it any longer than they have to. We will help them achieve as quick and as safe a recovery as possible.

Schedule an appointment at our Dearborn office by calling (313) 582-6222 or by filling out our online contact form.



7243 Chase Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48126


(313) 582-6222


Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm


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