Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic | Tel: 07760 615804

Growing pains – This is not what you think it is

Here is something I am sure you did not know.

Every month we see at the surgery youngs athletes (between 8 and 17 years old) complaining of hip, knee and ankle pain.  I know what you are thinking about : GROWING PAINS! 

Well no, most probably it has nothing to do with growing pains.

Growing pains are pains that affect children aged between 3 and 12 years old.  The pain is normally over the long bones of the leg (thighs, calves or shins) and will manifest mainly at night time.  Children will complain of intense cramp-like pains but will wake up in the morning without any pain.  Their ability to walk will not be affected and, surprisingly, no pain will be produced when doing sports.

We do not know exactly the cause of growing pain but can be easily be helped by taking paracetamol, massage and heat over the painful area.

So what do children complain about when they play sports?

Young athletes are by definition very active and will use their muscles a lot, which tends to make them tighter.  As growing individuals, their bone grow (and this is rarely painful).  Unfortunately, the bones can grow a bit too quickly and the muscles do not manage to stretch at the same speed. Especially during a growth spur.  The muscle tendons then tend to pull too much on the bone insertions and this causes a lot of pain.

Osgood -Schlatter and Sever’s diseases (I am still not sure why they call them diseases but eh!) are the 2 most well know examples of tendons pulling on bones in children.

Osgood Schlatter’s disease is when the patellar tendon (the tendon of the Quadriceps muscle) pulls onto its insertion, the tibial tubercle.

Sever’s disease is when the Achilles tendon (the tendon of the calf) pulls onto its insertion on the heel (the calcaneum bone).

How can physio help patients with these conditions?

 

We are Sports physio so physiotherapy management will consist in first instance on trying to keep the athletes doing their sports and improve the condition without having to stop.  These young athletes might be the future big stars of Scottish sport so you do not want to compromise their training, especially with treating swimmers and gymnasts who need a lot of hours of training from a very young age.

If they are too much in pain, we will ask them to active rest.  Active rest is when we allow patients to do some exercises as long as they do not increase the pain.  Physiotherapy will focus on reducing the symptoms and then re-introduce the patients progressively to their sport in a pain-free manner until they can perform normally again.