When your child begins to experience growing pains, it can not only become a cause for concern (especially if you’re unsure of the cause), but can also impact on their ability to stay active and happy.
Here are the two most common types of growing pains that I see in the clinic, as well as some strategies to help manage the pain they cause AND help keep your kids participating in a healthy and active lifestyle when dealing with growing pains:
Osgood Schlatters Disease
Osgood Schlatters disease appears as pain at the front of the shin bone, just below the knee cap. It most commonly presents in girls between the ages of 8-13, and boys between 12-15 years. It can appear on one or both knees, and actually involves both knees simultaneously around 20-30% of the time.
Sever’s disease is similar to Osgood Schlatters, except that it causes heel pain at the point where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Sever’s disease is the number one cause of heel pain in children between the ages of 8-15 years.
What’s the cause?
There are three common factors that generally arise in children with both Osgood Schlatters and Sever’s Disease. These are:
- A recent history of accelerated growth
- High levels of participation in sports
- Pain is exacerbated by running, kicking and jumping sports in particular.
Methods to manage Osgood Schlatters and Severs disease:
Both these conditions are generally managed quite well with conservative treatment, including:
- Strengthening of the leg muscles, particularly the calves, quadriceps and glutes
- Biomechanical modifications, for example change of footwear of prescription of foot orthotics
- And most importantly – activity modification. As a general guide, we like to use the “48 hour rule” for activity modification – this suggests that pain levels should return to a “normal” or “baseline” level within 48 hours after a particular activity. If pain is elevated for longer than a 48 hour period, then that amount of activity is deemed to be beyond the capacity of the injured tissue, and should be modified with either a period of relative rest, or by decreasing the intensity, duration, or frequency (or a combination of all these) until pain and function improves.
It is important to know that the recovery time frame for these conditions will vary – whilst some kids will regain pain-free function within a period of weeks or months, some children may continue to experience occasional “flare ups” of their condition for much longer, sometimes up until their skeletal system has fully developed. However it is good to know that there are normally no long term problems associated with either of these conditions.