The first week of school is over here in North Oakville and parents are breathing sighs of relief as their families start getting back to a regular routine. While getting their children ready for back to school and starting to get outfits for fall ready many parents see their children walking out in pants that are a couple sizes too short and in sleeves on shirts that are now 3/4 length. We often see young patients in our Oakville Physiotherapy, Massage, and Foot Care Clinic for nagging and worsening aches and pains related to such growth spurts. Imagine when kids and youth grow out of their clothes so quickly what is going on as their muscles catch up to their stretching bones in terms of length, tension and control. You may even notice that your child has been a little more clumsy (think Bambi on the ice learning to walk).
The term “growing pains” is commonly used to describe any pain experienced by children as they go through a significant period of growth. During growth spurts, children may complain of non-specific leg pain due to a rapid increase in bone development compared to muscle length. This increase in bone growth relative to muscle results in increased muscle tension and increased stress though tendons as they attach to bone. Growing pains are more common in children that are very physically active, and participate in running and jumping types of sports.
Some Symptoms your Child may be Experiencing are:
- Aching pain in the knees, shins or heels
- Pain worse in the evening and at night
- Disturbed sleep
- Pain is worse after an active day and improves with rest
- Local swelling or tender spots at bony attachment sites
As Growing pains Increase in Severity, they are Commonly Diagnosed as:
- Osgood Schlatter’s Disease – Pain is located at the top of the tibia (shin bone), below the knee cap. This is caused by the tight quadriceps muscle pulling on the patellar tendon. It can also be associated with flat feet and weak hip musculature. This is commonly seen in soccer players, gymnasts and dancers.
- Sever’s Disease – Pain is located at the heel where the achilles tendon attaches at the back of the heel. Tight calf muscles can cause extra stress through the achilles tendon and into where the it attaches into the bone. This is commonly seen in soccer players and runners.
- Shin Splints – Pain can be located on either the front of the shin or the inside of the shin. Pain at the front of the shin is related to tight tibialis anterior muscle and pain located inside of the shin is related to tight tibialis posterior muscle. Shin splints or shin pain is often associated with tight calf muscles and flat feet.
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome – pain is non-specific and located around the patella (knee cap). This is caused by muscular imbalance in the quads and hips and is more common in young girls.
Contributing Factors in Growing Pains:
- Rapid growth spurt
- High or increasing activity levels and sports (running and jumping sports can aggravate growing pains)
- Foot Position: flat feet or high arch and not appropriate footwear (if this is the case an a Chiropodist or Foot Care Specialist can help direct you to the most appropriate footwear choices for your child’s activity and structures. They can also evaluate if a custom foot Orthotic would be prudent)
- Poor posture
- Previous injury
While many children will recover once they stop growing, Physiotherapy is helpful in decreasing pain and speeding up the recovery process through hands on treatment and perhaps most importantly a customized home exercise program. A Physio can provide you with the most appropriate stretches and strengthening exercises to help your child overcome some of these muscular imbalances and allow them to stay in the game!
Contact our Oakville Physiotherapy, Massage and Foot Care (Chiropody) Clinic to book now!