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Growing Pains: What is it?

Physio&SoleClinic Flat Feet, Heel Pain, Podiatry April 8 2016

The family has been out for a whole day of fun. Towards the end of the day, the little one starts to whine: “Mommy! Daddy! My feet… paaaaaaiiinnnn!”

Often, these complaints tend to be dismissed by parents as they attribute their child’s whining to ‘growing pains’. It is commonly believed that children will eventually outgrow such ‘growing pains’. However, persistent untreated pain can have a long term negative effect on a child’s mood, energy level and interest in physical activities.


Q: ‘What are children growing pains, and is there any way we can help other than wait it out?’

Growing pains are generalised muscular pain affecting children between the ages of 3 to 11. Boys and girls are both equally affected. The symptoms of growing pains include:

  • Muscular aches and pains felt in the legs – typically in the calves, behind the knees and in the front of the thighs.
  • The onset of pain is usually around late afternoons or evenings.
  • The pain is worse during the night, particularly when the child is going to sleep.
  • The pain may be severe enough to wake the child from sleep.
  • The pain is gone by the morning.
  • The pain does not cause a limp or affect usual running and playing.

It is widely reported that growing pains occurs because of increased activities or that their ‘bones’ are at a developmental phase. However, an increase in activity levels does not necessarily correlate to occurrence of growing pains.

Based on years of clinical experience in treating children’s feet, we have noticed that those who exhibit growing pains tend to be kids with poor muscular balance and control, tight muscles and/or flat feet.  These conditions can be treated with stretching and strengthening exercises, footwear advice and if required, foot orthoses. Podiatry intervention with insoles, exercises and gait retraining can reduce growing pains, and the affected child can happily return to their desired activity level pain-free.

Hence, your child may not be whiny or seeking attention because their pain can be real. If your child is experiencing the above symptoms, it is recommended to consult a podiatrist for a thorough assessment. We are here to help!

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