Will Calcaneal Apophysitis Always Call For Surgery?

Overview

The large heel bone (called the calcaneus) has a growth plate at the back of the heel. This growth plate is made of soft cartilage and it gradually narrows and starts to turn into solid bone around 8 to 13 years of age. This growth plate is prone to becoming inflamed and painful at this time. The strong Achilles tendon happens to join onto the back of the heel bone and pulls on this growth plate when running causing Sever?s disease.

Causes

Severs disease is often associated with a rapid growth spurt. As the bones get longer, the muscles and tendons become tighter as they cannot keep up with the bone growth. The point at which the achilles tendon attaches to the heel becomes inflamed and the bone starts to crumble (a lot like osgood schlatters disease of the knee). Tight calf muscles may contribute as the range of motion at the ankle is reduced resulting in more strain on the achilles tendon. Sever's disease is the second most common injury of this type which is known as an apophysitis.

Symptoms

Sharp pain will be present in the affected heel (or both heels), especially while running or walking. Pain can be heightened following activity. The area will be tender to the touch and usually becomes inflamed or reddened. It may also be painful to press on the heel with a finger from the back or to squeeze the sides together; the latter is particularly common. You might notice stiffness in some of the surrounding muscles, making regular movements more difficult to achieve. This and the pain can manifest physically in abnormal practices like tiptoeing or limping. In some cases a lump can be detected on the back of the heel, though it may be so small as to defy detection.

Diagnosis

Sever disease is most often diagnosed clinically, and radiographic evaluation is believed to be unnecessary by many physicians, but if a diagnosis of calcaneal apophysitis is made without obtaining radiographs, a lesion requiring more aggressive treatment could be missed. Foot radiographs are usually normal and the radiologic identification of calcaneal apophysitis without the absence of clinical information was not reliable.

Non Surgical Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment to improve range of the ankle and descrease soft tissue tightness. Orthotics to control excessive motion of the foot. Icing the painful area. Use of topical anti-inflammatory cream. Taping of the foot during exercise. Stretching, only if recommended by the physiotherapist.

Recovery

Sever?s disease is self-recovering, meaning that it will go away on its own when the foot is used less or when the bone is through growing. The condition is not expected to create any long-term disability, and expected to subside in 2-8 weeks. Some orthopedic surgeons will put the affected foot in a cast to immobilize it. However, while the disease does subside quickly, it can recur, for example at the s It is more common in boys, although occurs in girls as well. The average age of symptom onset is 9-11.

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