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Sever’s Disease or Calcaneal Apophysitis?

The most common reason for heel pain in children is what is popularly and commonly known as Sever’s disease, but…

By Craig Payne , in Foot , at April 22, 2021 Tags: ,


The most common reason for heel pain in children is what is popularly and commonly known as Sever’s disease, but less commonly known as calcaneal apophysitis. This is a self limiting condition of the apophysis on the posterior aspect of the calcaneus. It is generally managed with heel pads and advice regarding the management of loads. All cases do resolve spontaneously given time and management is only needed if the symptoms are interfering with daily activities.

It was first described by James Warren Sever, an orthopedic surgeon in 1912. Even though the condition is commonly known as Severs disease, it probably should be abandoned as a name and be replaced with the term, calcaneal apophysitis.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. There is a trend to no longer name conditions after people who first described them
  2. Words and language matter. Describing this as a “disease” is no longer appropriate for what it can conjure up in the child’s mind.

We addressed several of these issues in a PodChatLive with Alicia James:

Craig Payne
University lecturer, writer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, science communicator, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger, dad.

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