Growing Pains

Growing Pains

Growing pains are a non-life-threatening condition that affects children whose bones are not yet fully grown. There seems to be a mystery of why children get this condition. Should a parent have any concerns if their child experiences this condition? Please read on to find out more.

What are growing pains?

The so-called “growing pains” is a condition experienced by a child, usually at night after they have gone to bed. It is extremely painful and worrisome to a parent whose child is crying because of pain to their shins. The pain usually goes away within an hour or so. It is not a consistent pain that occurs every night and rarely if ever, occurs during the day.

What causes growing pains?

This is one of the most important questions that is usually answered incorrectly by most physicians. Believe it or not, our bones do not hurt when they grow. Ask the tallest person in the room if they experienced growing pains as a child; probably not. Our bones grow during a natural, painless process. Why is it that only the leg bones give us pain when they “grow”? Right, it doesn’t make any sense.

Here is the real cause of pain to the lower legs at night. It is actually an inflammation of the lining of the leg bones, periostitis. During the day, the muscles connected to leg bones to stabilize and move the feet during standing, walking, and running are pulling on the lining of the leg bone more than they should. Remember, pain is a warning signal that something is wrong. The goal is to try to discover what is wrong, not just to give medicine to cover up the pain.

Usually, this condition occurs in children who have a partially dislocating ankle bone, ankle bone instability. This is an orthopedic deformity that is present at birth but not usually detected until later in life. The foot bones are not as strongly connected to the other bones of the foot. This creates a weakened foot structure. The ligaments that connect bone-to-bone send a signal to the spine to make the muscles contract more to stabilize weakened joints. This creates an excessive pulling on the lining of the leg bone that could eventually lead to inflammation of the tissue.

Why is it a bad thing?

Growing pains are pretty much a harmless condition that goes away with time. Eventually, tissues and muscles get strong enough to handle the stresses acting on them. Just remember that the ankle bone instability is still present and increased forces are still acting on the structures of the knees, hips, and back. Those “growing pains” can return later in life as foot, knee, hip, and back pain.

What is the best form of treatment? What happens if I don’t treat growing pains?

Tincture of time is usually the best form of treatment, however, if ankle bone instability is present, it would be very prudent to take preventative steps to stabilize the ankle bone before more permanent damage occurs to the other parts of the body.

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