Sever's disease is a disorder caused by overuse or injury of growth plates in the calcaneus (the heel bone), commonly a result of repetitive exercise. The disorder is also called calcaneal apophysitis, the painful inflammation (swelling) of the heel growth plate. It was named in 1912 by J. W. Sever, MD, when he first described it in the New York Medical Journal as an overuse syndrome that occurs when a particular body part is injured from overexertion or excessive strain.
Sever's disease is the most common cause of heel pain in older children, and it can occur in one or both heels. It has been compared to Osgood-Schlatter's disease, which is another overuse condition that affects the bones in the knees. Sever's disease predominantly affects athletic children (girls 8-10 years old, and boys 10-12 years old) entering early puberty. In persons less than 20 years of age, it has been estimated that it constitutes 5.8% of all injuries.
Soccer players and gymnasts are often affected, but any physical activity that involves running or jumping can cause Sever's disease. Although Sever's disease is painful, it generally only occurs during adolescent growth spurts and may last approximately six weeks to two months. Therefore, it is considered self-limiting, that is, it should resolve on its own. Children experiencing pain symptoms may limit exercise, rest, and use cold compresses, or in more severe cases, may use anti-inflammatory medications.
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