What Is Growing Pain?

Anthony Robinson29th of October 2018www.completepodiatry.com.au / blog / family-advice / growing-pain

What Is Growing Pain

We see many children in our clinic brought in by parents worried about aches and pains in their children’s legs.

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While for many children the cause may be due to poor footwear, abnormal biomechanics (the way you move) or poor foot posture, for others the causes may not be so easily identified. This can be Growing Pain.

‘Growing Pain’ is a term used to describe pain and/or discomfort in your child's legs that have no obvious cause.

It typically occurs in large muscles such as the calf and the thigh muscles and is not always related to activity levels.

These pains tend to develop in children from the ages of three and five years, and from eight to 11 years. Boys and girls tend to be equally affected.

Symptoms of Growing Pain

The most common symptoms of growing pain are:

  • muscle aches and pains in both legs that comes and goes
  • they may occur every night for a week or so, or a few times a week, or only occasionally and then stop
  • pain is usually around the late afternoon or evening with the pain worse during the night (particularly when children are supposed to be going to sleep)
  • pain is usually gone by morning and does not tend to cause a limp or make it hard to run and play normally.

Causes of Growing Pain

It is important to know growing pain does not affect how a child walks and runs and that they do not make a child unwell or cause swelling in joints.

If your child is limping or complaining of joint pain or foot pain, it's best to get your child checked by your Podiatrist or a doctor.

Growing pain was once thought to be the “pain of growing bones”, however, as bones grow rather slowly, this is unlikely to be the cause.

I tend to find growing pain is more commonly associated with children who have experienced a rapid growth spurt where there is a relative tightness of the muscles compared with the long bone it is attached to.

Diagnosis of Growing Pain

The best thing to do if you suspect your child has growing pain is to firstly, get a clear diagnosis of the cause of pain.

Growing pain tends to be diagnosed by eliminating other causes of leg pain.

Conditions such as arthritis, infection (bacterial and viral) and biomechanical overloading of muscles and joints can cause similar symptoms to growing pain.

These types of conditions need to be identified early as delayed management may have serious long-term consequences for your child’s health.

Always book an appointment to see your Podiatrist or doctor if your child complains of severe pain (especially if it only affects one leg), develops a limp, if they are unwell, have a fever or experience joint swelling, loss of appetite or have a strange rash.

Treatment for Growing Pains

Always see your Podiatrist or doctor and make sure that there is no other cause of pain.

The simplest way to manage growing pain is with:

  • Gentle massage and stretching of the sore muscles. 
  • Warm baths and heat packs can sometimes also help in conjunction with simple paracetamol at the correct dose (confirm this with your pharmacist).
  • If you notice your child tends to trip or fall a lot or has flat feet see your Podiatrist to have their function and posture checked. 
  • If these simple measures do not help, I have found that plenty of cuddles and reassurance that the pain will go away and that their legs will feel normal by morning helps too.

Pain Is Not Normal For Any Child

Growing pains should not stop your child from enjoying their lives.  Don’t let your child’s growing pain stop them from enjoying the things kids love to do! 

I'm so confident I can help you that I'd love to chat with you personally about your child's growing pain, it's what I'm passionate about!

Just enter your details in the field below and a rough time that you'd like me to contact you & I'll be more than happy to explain how we can help your child feel better fast.

 Yours in helping to build healthy families, from the feet up,

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Anthony Robinson

Owner and Principal Podiatrist, Complete Podiatry

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