As Physiotherapists we are often asked, what are growing pains? Can my child still play sport with growing pains? What can I do to ease growing pains?

Growing pain associated injuries are caused by an inflammation/ irritation of the growth plate. Typical areas include below the knee (Osgood-Schlatters) and the base of the heel (Severe’s disease). In the growing body the bones grow faster than muscles. Therefore as the bones grow they pull on the shortened muscle via their attachments; tendons. Repetitive contraction of the muscle, as occurs with sport causes repeated stress on the bone.

Growth associated injuries effect both boys and girls typically between the ages of 9 and 16years.  Although growing pains will resolve with time they will often reappear again during later growth.

You may also find that your child has non-specific sites of pain, i.e. achy muscles in the front of the thigh, back of the knee and calf. These aches often occur late in the afternoon and into the evening and ease with rest. It is unknown why such pain occurs and is usually present in the younger child, between the ages of 3 and 12years.

In mild cases children are able to continue to play sport with growing pains. In most instances exercise tolerance is limited by the child’s pain levels. If they are unable to play sport without pain it is advised that they take a break from training/ competition until the irritation settles down.

It is important to ensure that an accurate diagnosis is made in relation to growing pains as other pathology can easily be mistaken for growing pains. There are a number of Physiotherapy techniques available to ease growing pains, including soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, electrotherapy, taping and the prescription of orthotics and heel lifts. Be sure to consult your Physiotherapist if you are concerned that your child is suffering from growing pains.