After weeks of stalking message threads I thought I’d join and get some advice on my son’s dilemma.
Long story short - over 1 year ago my very active son added Surf Life Saving into his schedule which basically involved 3 days a week of running training - mixture of sand running and long distance road running. Prior to this he has never had running training and mainly wore Nike shoes. He has never had any injuries and was a high level athlete. He was also playing 2 basketball games and football each week. So there was a big jump in his training demands at the time.
Towards the end of the surf life saving carnival in April he was saying his feet were hurting and he had to pull out of the races. For a few weeks after this he would say every day that his legs and feet hurt. We have him rest and had some custom orthotics made by a podiatrist who said he overpronated and was hyper flexible.
Since that time we have watched him become a shadow of the kid he was - over the past year we have watched him go from being one of the fastest kids to one of the slowest. He has lost his ability to jump and developed an unusual gait and a pronounced limp. During this time we saw numerous doctors/ podiatrist/physios/chiros - all of whom diagnosed him with Severs disease. He had a positive squeeze test - nearly jumping though the wall when touched on his heel. Basically inflammation around the growth plate common in active children. His symptoms did tend to match with severs - but after 6 months of treating him with rest/ice/stretches/stealing/heel cups and all the other suggestions for Severs he was not getting any relief and still limping about.
I finally saw a sports doctor who was referred to me and he finally agreed to an MRI. He had previously had xrays and ultrasounds of both feet which were normal. The MRI results came back approx 6 weeks ago and showed unusual bone edema in his calcaneus, cuboid and proximal shaft of his 5th metatarsal. There was no bursar effusions and the insertion of the Achilles was normal. Plantar fascia and heel pad were normal and major ankle ligaments were intact. So the outcome was a stress related injury/reaction to the Calcaneum.
The doctor was adament he didn’t want him in a boot as he was worried about muscles/ligaments weakening. He just said No running for 6 weeks until we scanned him again. I know my son and I know he would run at school with his mates. I’m an orthopaedic nurse and got some input from our surgeons who said a boot was a good idea. He was put in an air cast type boot for 5 weeks and came out of it 2 weeks ago. In this time he stopped limping and said the pain was greatly reduced. He no longer flinched when we squeezed his heel.
The doctor did a second MRI scan which showed he had only healed about 50% so he wants a further 4 weeks with no running. He said no boot just to walk as normal. Thankfully my son has listened and is not running. He is definitely not limping but still has an unsuspecting gait - sort of like his knees are quite “loose” and he is swaying a lot at his hips.
The poor kid has been socially isolated as all his mates are sporty. He has put on a fair bit of weight and is subconscious about it. I’m praying that after 4 weeks he will be cured but I’m anxious that he won’t be able to get back to his usual self.
Has anyone had experience with a stress fracture in someone so young and in particular returning to sport/normal gait after a heel stress fracture? I feel like he may have done some serious damage given he continued to play sport for close to 1 year before finally getting a proper diagnosis.
I’m worried he should be in the boot to speed healing? He is taking vitamin d and magnesium but has a pretty good diet anyway. Rich in calcium.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.