Stop in the name of love – Sever’s Disease

Remember back in English class that the teacher talked about things like synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms? I know, it was a bit mind boggling with all the terms. I was thinking about words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things. It turns out that words like that are homophones. Used them in a sentence, you could say :
When children have Sever’s disease, they need to heal their heel.
Oh wow, that brings me to an explanation of Sever’s disease.
What is Sever’s disease?
Sever’s disease is a disease that affects children between the ages of about 8-15. It is a disease that is caused by rapid growth of the heel.
In the past, we have talked about growth plates. Children’s bones are not connected like adult bones. Children have growth plates. Growth plates are the area of tissue at the end of the long bones. Growth plate areas are at the wrist, bones of the legs, in the ankle, foot or hip bones. As a child grows, the growth plates form new bone. Growth plates gradually close generally by the age of 15.
In a growing skeleton, the growth plate areas are the weakest areas. An injury to a child’s growth plate is a fracture, whereas in an adult, it might be a sprain. There is a growth plate in the heel. This growth plate allows for the foot to grow. Sometimes though, the heel will grow at a pace that exceeds the pace of growth of the tendons and muscles around it. When this happens, the tendons and ligaments get overstretched. This tightness puts additional pressure on the growth plate.
If a child has experienced a rapid growth of their heel and the muscles and tendons are overstretched and then that child takes part in sports that call for repetitive striking of the heel on a hard surface (like running or jumping) then the growth plate can become damaged. Sever’s disease is when the heel becomes inflamed and painful due to overuse. With Sever’s disease, the heel will swell, there will be pain and the area will be tender to the touch. You might notice that a child with Sever’s disease may limp or walk on their tiptoes to try and avoid having their heel striking the floor when they walk.
What happens to a child with Sever’s disease?
The good news (I guess that is a matter of opinion) is that the majority of the cure for Sever’s disease is to rest the heel. If you have a child that loves basketball but starts to be in pain from Sever’s disease, they may not welcome the idea of not participating but that is how to alleviate the pain. It is a disease that time and rest will cure. It is one of those diseases though, that is cured faster if it is caught faster. The longer the child limps along with the problem, the longer it will take for them to feel better.
The next part of good news is that is unlikely to cause problems later on in life.
What can I do if I think my child has Sever’s?
You want to go and see your friendly local podiatrist to check out the problem. The doctor will ask about your child’s activities. The doctor will physically exam the child’s foot. One check that can be done is to squeeze the back of the heel on both sides to see if it hurts. Also, the doctor may ask your child to walk on his/her tiptoes to see if that hurts.
It is possible that the doctor could order an x ray. Sever’s cannot be diagnosed from an x ray; the x ray is used to rule out other problems.
One important note
I know that it is easy to get wrapped up in your children’s activities. There is one thing that you should always remember with children in sports. If they are in pain, they should STOP PLAYING. With a developing body, pain is an indication that there is something wrong and you should pay attention to it.
And then a note for those who want to know who named the disease
Okay, this is for those of us who have inquiring minds. Or we are just a bit into trivia. The disease was named for an American Orthopedic Surgeon. James Warren Sever (1878-1964) described the disease in 1912. So, if we go back to the grammatical question of whether it is Sever’s disease because he had the disease, I think it is safe to say that he observed it because he could not have had it when he described it. (Okay, he could have had it and he grew out of it but I bet it was his observations rather than first-hand knowledge.) I guess we cannot really answer that question.
Have a great week!

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