Are Growing Pains Real?
“Growing Pains,” an 80’s sitcom starring Alan Thicke, is definitely real. That’s probably not what you’re asking, though.
Growing pains, the physical phenomenon, is a little trickier to explain. Some kids do often experience unexplained pain in the legs (thighs, knees, calves, etc.), and those are often labeled “growing pains” by children, parents, and even doctors. The physical sensations are real, and chances are your little one isn’t just trying to get out of school or going to the supermarket! That said, there’s no evidence to suggest that what we call “growing pains” have anything to do with growth. Especially considering that growing pains don’t seem to sync up with adolescent growth spurts anyway (they’re most common in younger kids), the name “growing pains” seems to be misleading.
Interestingly enough, however, while “growing pains” probably have nothing to do with growing, there are some other painful conditions that do. Although growing is not painful in and of itself, many of the long bones of adolescents feature exposed areas of softer bone tissue at the bone ends called growth plates. At this stage, growth plates are even weaker than the surrounding limits and highly susceptible to injury. Perhaps the most common example is Sever’s disease, which results from irritation and inflammation of the growth plate at the back of the heel.
Sever’s disease is the growth-related pain that we see most frequently, but growth plate injuries and even fractures can occur elsewhere besides the heel. Leg bones, arm bones, even fingers might be susceptible. Lots of sports and physical activity, particularly during a growth spurt, are common risk factors.
If your child ever complains of pain in the heels or legs, please take them down to the Kansas Foot Center. Pain is always a sign that something is wrong, and obtaining an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from a specialist is the best way to ensure that the matter is resolved quickly and with no long-term repercussions. To see our team in Wichita, give us a call today at (866) 222-5177.