Demystifying Growing Pains

What are “Growing Pains”?

“Growing pains” is a term usually given to most kids when they report some kind of pain in their extremities. Suspected growing pain is also the most commonly reported reason for visiting a GP and true diagnoses range from 3-37% of children. As it is such of high concern to parents and children, but has a lower likelihood of actually being growing pains it is important to recognise the symptoms of true growing pains, and learn when it is not.

Currently, growing pains are considered a non-inflammatory pain syndrome in kids aged 3-12 years. It is not related to the joints and mostly impacts muscles of the shins, calves, thigh and back of the knee. We still don’t know why they occur but we do know they are associated with pain later in the day, resolve in late childhood and can have periods of days/weeks without pain.

What are the symptoms of Growing Pains?

  1. Growing pains are always in the legs and need to be in both legs.
  2. Children will experience either pain in the late afternoon, evening or both.
  3. Children may also experience pain at night which can wake them up.
  4. Occurs at random but often after a large bout of exercise or when they are feeling moody.

Other things to look out for with Growing Pains?

If your child has these symptoms, it may be something else and would be worth going to your local GP, Paediatrician or Physiotherapist for further assessment.

  • Pain in 1 leg
  • Pain in the hip, knee, ankle joint
  • Pain in the morning
  • Pain that causes a limp or prevents them from walking
  • Frequent feelings of fatigue or sleepiness
  • Pain also with a high temperature
  • Loss of appetite or weight

Who can help with growing pains and how?

The best people to ask for guidance will be your Paediatrician, local GP or one of our Physiotherapists, who specialise in children and adolescent pain.

In some cases, pain medication may be the only option needed however this will be a conversation to have with your GP.

In most cases, Physiotherapy can help with assessing for any other reasons why your child might be in pain and provide treatment through soft tissue massage and gentle exercise.

Keep this in mind

If your child is experiencing pain keep in mind their age (above 12 years is unlikely to be growing pains), where their pain is (growing pains = legs. If it’s in the arms or back then it could be another cause), when they experience it (must be reported in the afternoon/evening/night). If your child is experiencing pains of any nature, see one of our team of physiotherapists here at Instinct Health who can help with the diagnosis, and management of these pains.

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Demystifying Growing Pains