The pain of growing pains!
What are growing pains?
If you have a growing child at home, you may hear them complaining about an achy, painful feeling in their legs that seems to have come on for no particular reason. About half of children aged 8-12 years old experience pain in the legs that are referred to as ‘growing pains’. You may have experienced them yourself growing up – an achy, uncomfortable feeling that usually occurs in the front of the thighs, the calves or behind the knees. Growing pains typically occur in both legs and at night -often waking kids up – after they have been active throughout the day.
Growing Pains – Why?
The exact cause of growing pains is still unknown however we know that at this age children put strain through their growing muscles attaching to their bones as they jump, run and climb. Sometimes muscle tightness or muscle imbalance (one muscle group stronger than their opposing muscle group) can be a factor.
When to worry about growing pains
It is important to be aware of the signs that would indicate something more serious than growing pains. A joint that is painful as well as swollen, red, tender or warm to touch could be a more serious issue. If the pain comes on as a result of a trauma like a fall or impact it is important that you see your physician to rule out a fracture. A few other red flags include:
- long lasting pain, pain in the morning, swelling or redness in one particular spot
- pain as a result of a specific injury or impact
- fever, loss of appetitive, paleness, unusual rashes
- limping, change in walking or running pattern
- weakness, unusual tiredness
- unusual behavior
- back pain and pain when bending over
What can help?
There are a few things that can help at home to reduce your child’s discomfort like gently massaging the area, stretching the muscles, a warm bath, or applying a heating pad. For a longer term solution a paediatric physiotherapist can assess growing pains as well as rule out other serious causes for the pain. The physiotherapist will look at factors such as muscle imbalance or pronated feet that may be causing excessive strain through the muscles and joints. Depending on their findings, they may suggest heel lifts or arch supports in their shoes. Growing pains usually go away after a few months or years but seeing a paediatric physiotherapist can help to promote lower extremity alignment and balance, alleviate the pain, give suggestions for a home program and keep the kids active! Give us a call to book an initial assessment at Butterfly Paediatric Therapy – (905) 206 0300.