Adolescents, especially those who play sports year-round, may have an increased risk of developing Sever’s Disease. Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, it may cause pain in the back of the heel while playing sports that subsides after exercise. It’s especially common between the ages of 9 to 13.
Symptoms occur when the growth plate in the lower portion of the heel becomes inflamed. Those affected may feel pain from the lower leg to the arch of the foot. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis, a condition that younger children and teenagers don’t typically develop.
In my experience, Sever’s Disease is most common among those who play "cleated sports", because those sports involve side to side movements which can aggravate the heel in a cleat.
This is a relatively simple condition to deal with but can be frustrating because it is self-limiting as the athlete needs to wait until it resolves. Treatment usually includes rest, ice, ibuprofen, orthotics or physical therapy. In some cases, I recommend multi-season athletes take a season off to let the condition heal.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to prevent this condition from developing. Some athletes develop it, while others do not.
If your child is experiencing recurring heal pain, it’s important to consult with your doctor as continuing to play can further aggravate the condition. Your doctor can develop a plan based on the athlete’s individual symptoms. Some may do well by simply reducing their exercise while others may need to take time off or have the area immobilized. The good news is that with proper management, the condition typically resolves, though recovery may vary from a few months to as long as two years.