Growing pains can be a very difficult experience for both parents and children. Up to 40% of children may experience growing pains, which can be excruciating and incapacitating. Like teething, growing pains are often seen as inevitable and something that simply must be endured. Fortunately, that is not the case. Physiotherapy can be used to alleviate growing pains, and you may be surprised at how quickly you will see results. In this blog, we’re going to look at what causes growing pains, and how physiotherapy can be used to help.
Growing pains are most commonly attributed to periods of sudden growth, where the bones stretch great lengths in a short amount of time. However, it is not in the bones themselves that the pain originates, but rather, the muscles. The reason for this is that as the bones grow longer, the muscles are stretched, often at a painful rate. For this reason, the pain is almost always experienced in both legs, usually in the thighs, calves, and behind the knees.
Another theory behind growing pains is that it is caused by all the running, jumping, and physical activity that children engage in. This may explain why the pains are most often experienced later in the day or during the night, but disappear by morning.
Regardless of the root cause of growing pains, physiotherapy can be used to alleviate the pain. Massaging the legs can help to loosen up the muscles and make it easier for them to stretch out, thus reducing the pain the child will experience. Hot baths in the evening may also help to loosen the muscles, as can applying a heat pad to the affected areas.
However, stretches are by far the most effective way to reduce the pain. If you take your child to visit a physiotherapist, they will be assessed so the best exercises and stretches can be identified. As every child is different and has different physical abilities and limitations, the physiotherapist will determine which muscles are the most problematic, and what stretches will be most effective at reducing the pain. It is important for a physiotherapist to be involved in this process, as simply doing general stretches could exercise the wrong muscles, or exercise them in the wrong way. This would not only be a waste of time, but could cause the pain to become even worse.
The pain experienced by children during these periods often seems unrelenting and unbearable, so it may come as a surprise to learn that it could begin to disappear just weeks or even days after the stretches are put into practice. Growing pains typically occur periodically over the course of several months, but can last for over a year. They can also be quite frequent, with some children experiencing them almost every night, so visiting a physiotherapist and identifying the necessary stretches can save parents and children from a long, drawn-out period of pain, not only ensuring that your kids are pain-free, but also that they stay active, happy, and get a good night’s sleep.