Understanding Sever’s Disease (Causes, Symptoms and Treatment)

Sever's Disease, often referred to as "calcaneal apophysitis," is a common condition among adolescent athletes and is not actually a disease. It ranks as the primary cause of heel pain in children, particularly during rapid growth phases.

This condition arises from heightened inflammation and strain on the growth plate located in the heel. In children whose growth plates haven't yet fully matured, increased tension in the surrounding musculature and poor shock absorption in the lower extremities place additional stress on the passive structures that can lead to chronic inflammation and pain.

Sever's Disease can be triggered by an uptick in physical activity, such as running, jumping, and landing during intense sporting activities, and typically presents from the ages of 10-15.


Symptoms may include

  • Heel pain during physical activity (Especially with high-impact sports)
  • Increase soreness after games and practices
  • Calf tightness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth


At-Home Treatment

Here is an amazing first step in the treatment of Sever’s Disease and can also help a number of other foot and ankle conditions. The goal of this exercise is to great length in the calf musculature, “An extremely common area for tightness” as well as improve joint range of motion be restoring ankle “Dorsiflexion.”

Link To Video


In-Office Treatment

The primary objective of treatment is to alleviate stress and inflammation on the heel's growth plate. Here are some strategies to achieve this:

1. Enhancing Shock Absorption:

Sever's Disease often involves increased stress on the heel bone (calcaneus) during physical activities. Restricted mobility in some foot and ankle joints can hinder proper shock absorption, significantly impacting ground reaction forces in the lower extremities. Joint manipulation techniques can help restore biomechanical integrity, thereby reducing the strain on the heel.

2Reducing Calf Musculature Tension and Tone: 

This can be accomplished through a combination of soft tissue manipulation and targeted rehabilitation exercises aimed at alleviating persistent tightness in the lower extremities.

3. Minimizing Inflammation:

Dry needling, particularly when applied directly to the affected heel, has been found effective in reducing pain and inflammation associated with Sever's Disease.

Common Questions and Answers

How long does Sever’s Disease last?

  • Typically Sever’s Disease if left untreated can last for several months to a year. This is impacted by the child’s growing phase and the amount of stress that is being placed on the heel.

Can my child still play sports with Sever's disease?

  • Yes your child can still participate in sporting events, in severe cases, a period of rest may be advised to help lower inflammation while rehab is taking place.  

What triggers Sever’s Disease?

  • Sever’s Disease is typically triggered by an increase in stress and inflammation on the heel during a rapid growing phase. Stress is placed on the open growth plate of the child’s heel causing an increase in symptoms.  

Does KT Tape work for Sever’s Disease?

  • Yes KT Tape can be used to help reduce pain in some cases. There are several taping techniques that your rehab chiropractor can use to help reduce pain during sporting events.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Sever's Disease, though not a true "disease," is a common and often painful condition that primarily affects adolescent athletes during periods of rapid growth. While it can be a source of discomfort and frustration for both children and their parents, it's essential to understand that it is typically a self-limiting condition that can be managed effectively.

Home-based treatments, such as calf muscle stretching exercises, can be a valuable first step in relieving symptoms and improving ankle joint mobility. Additionally, in-office treatments provided by healthcare professionals can play a crucial role in addressing Sever's Disease comprehensively. Techniques like enhancing shock absorption, reducing calf muscle tension, and minimizing inflammation can significantly alleviate pain and promote healing.

Parents often have questions about the duration of Sever's Disease, whether their child can continue playing sports, and the effectiveness of methods like KT Tape. Rest assured that with proper management and care, most children can continue to participate in sports while undergoing treatment, and the condition typically resolves as they grow.

If your child experiences symptoms of Sever's Disease, consult a healthcare provider or a rehab chiropractor for a tailored treatment plan. With the right approach, Sever's Disease can be managed effectively, allowing your child to enjoy a pain-free and active lifestyle during their growth phase.


Denner Chiropractic & Performance | Charlotte, North CarolinaAt Denner Chiropractic & Performance located in Charlotte, North Carolina our rehab chiropractic care incorporates rehabilitation, joint manipulation, soft tissue, and dry needling to help you achieve pain-free movement in life and sport. We are more than happy to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your condition or how we can help. Located on our main page or in our resource library tab is a sign-up for a free Discovery Call. During this time we will get to know you and your pain points. Let’s see if we are the right provider for you, schedule your Discovery Call today!


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