What are Growing Pains?
Aches and pains in children can be classified as growing pains if they fit into the following criteria:
- Intermittent pain- not there all the time
- Typically around the shin, back of the knee or calf
- Some painfree days and nights
- Onset of pain typically late afternoon/ evening
- Typically occurring in both legs
What Causes Growing Pains?
Despite the cause of growing pains remaining largely unknown, a higher prevalence has been found in children between 4-6 years of age who are active or slightly heavier than children of a similar age. Recent studies have suggested the following as the potential causes of growing pains:
1) Lower pain threshold:
The pain threshold in children with growing pains has been found to be significantly reduced compared to children of a similar age and gender.
2) Decreased bone strength:
The bone strength density of the large lower leg bone, known as the tibia was significantly less in children with growing pains compared. This suggests that repetitive loading activities such as jumping, hooping etc may lead to bony fatigue and pain.
Children who have joints that move beyond normal range of motion are considered to be hypermobile. Most children andadolescents with hypermobility are asymptomatic, however some individuals may need to take extra care to protect themselves from injury. This is because hypermobility can cause decreased joint stability which places increased stress on muscles and bones.
What To Do If Your Child Has growing Pains.
In most cases growing pains are nothing to be concerned about however your child may require a review from a medical professional if they demonstrate any of the following:
- Constant pain
- Pain during activities
- Extreme levels of discomfort on a regular basis
A physiotherapist will assess your child’s range of motion, muscle length and gross motor skills to identify any factors that may be contributing to your child having growing pains. Recent studies have suggested that a stretching program focused on the hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles is the most effective form of treatment for growing pains. However, your physiotherapists treatment may also consist of soft tissue massage, manual therapy and strengthening exercises to further assist in reducing symptoms.