Growing pains in children

written by Maxi Schönteich

It’s never fun to see our kids in pain – but for many kids, growing pains are inevitable. They’re a normal part of growth and development, and simply need to be worked with in order to relieve discomfort as your child grows.

However, it’s essential to distinguish growing pains from other types of pain that could be indicating an underlying problem, so this can be treated promptly if present.

Learn the difference between growing pains and other types of pain and how osteopathy can reduce your child’s pain, while enabling them to lead an active lifestyle.

What are growing pains?

Children tend to experience growing pains between age 3 and 12.

These pains usually occur in the legs, especially the calves, thighs and behind the knees. The pain may vary in intensity, from mild to moderate.

Growing pains are usually described as aching, throbbing or sharp sensations and normally occur in late afternoon, evening or night. The pain may last from a few minutes to a couple of hours.

Growing pains often disrupt children’s sleep, and can interfere with daily activities too.

Though the exact cause remains unknown, growing pains are believed to be related to the rapid growth and development of your child’s musculoskeletal system. One thing we do know is that growing pains are exacerbated by stress and tension.

Are growing pains different from other types of pain?

If your child is experiencing pain throughout the day, it may indicate an underlying issue. Growing pains usually occur in late afternoon, evening or at night. If you’re unsure whether your child has growing pains, an osteopath can rule out other conditions that could be contributing to their pain.

Location of the pain is a key factor. Growing pains usually occur in the legs, whereas other conditions may be felt throughout the body.

Additional symptoms like swelling, redness or fever indicate a more serious concern. If these symptoms are present, you should consult a healthcare professional.

If your child is an active athlete and experiencing pain following a game, they may have a sports injury.

At-home tips

There are some ways to ease growing pains at home. These techniques aim to reduce muscle tension in order to ease pain.

  1. Gently massage the area with lotion or oil in circular motions.
  2. Apply a warm compress or heat pad to the area, taking care to avoid burns.
  3. Target the muscles surrounding the affected area with stretching.
  4. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, so adding these to baths can provide some comfort.
  5. Ensure your child has adequate rest. Fatigue can exacerbate growing pains, so establishing a consistent sleep routine is important.

Natural solutions for growing pains

Ruling out underlying issues for the pain your child is experiencing is key. An osteopath can accurately diagnose whether your child is experiencing growing pains, or if something else is contributing to their discomfort.

Once we’ve confirmed that your child is experiencing growing pains, we’ll work to improve mobility, alignment and balance, which in turn alleviates tension in their musculoskeletal system to reduce their pain.

Osteopaths use gentle manipulation to relieve somatic stress and strengthen the surrounding structures around the affected joint. Relaxation techniques during the session also help reduce stress: one of the contributing factors for growing pains.

These hands-on techniques boost circulation, ensuring that nutrients and oxygen can be delivered freely to growing tissues, supporting the development of muscles and bones in kids.

Your osteopath can work with you to find the best supportive lifestyle choices for your child. This may include exercise, dietary suggestions, and daily support. Osteopaths can provide preventative strategies to reduce current growing pains, as well as supporting your child going forward.

In summary

Growing pains are distressing for both children and their parents. But, you and your kids don’t have to suffer. An osteopath can help you manage and reduce pain so your child can play freely.

If you suspect your child may have an underlying condition, rather than growing pains, it’s important to get them checked out. An osteopath can rule out any serious conditions and support your child on their road to recovery.

What’s next?

If your child is experiencing growing pains, we can help.

Bring your body back into balance with our osteopaths and chiropractors. Connect with us below, and we'll be in touch shortly.

About Maxi Schönteich

Maxi Schönteich is a UK-trained Osteopath, Paediatric Osteopath, Nutrition Therapist, and the only female Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner in Hong Kong. Blending her expertise, Maxi is appreciated by clients for her ability to identify and holistically treat the underlying, often hidden, causes of complex pain conditions that can be misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated for years. Maxi treats clients of all ages – from new-borns to growing children and adults to older people.

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