Heel Pain in Youth: A Guide to Potential Management Strategies

in International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training
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Calcaneal apophysitis, or Sever's disease, is common among physically active youth between the ages of 8-15. This condition is related to skeletal growth during maturation and relief often comes once growth is complete. However, it is not feasible to limit participation in physical activity until growth ceases; therefore, it is important to determine effective interventions to regulate pain while continuing participation. A search of the literature yielded nine studies that met the inclusion criteria and were included for data analysis. Within these publications, many treatment methods were suggested, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), taping, orthoses, heel lifts, stretching, activity modification, and ice. However, few of the treatment options were compared with a control group. Analysis revealed that clinicians should provide treatments with caution when treating patients suffering from Sever's disease, understanding that strong evidence is not supportive of one treatment option alone. Data are limited for individual treatments related to calcaneal apophysitis and more research in this area is warranted. Clinicians should work with patients on an individual basis to determine if one form of treatment provides a reduction of pain and allows that patient to continue with activity.

Michelle L. Weber, Kelsey J. Picha, and Tamara C. Valovich McLeod are with the Athletic Training program at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ.