Growing Pains In Children
Everyone has heard the words Growing Pains at some point in their life, but what exactly is a growing pain? How did the term growing pains become synonymous with the inexplicable or phantom pains growing children profess to feel that have no obvious cause or explanation and come and go in hours?
Growing pains are real, not imaginary; however, they are essentially harmless muscular or bone pains felt by growing children from a young age to the time their bodies stop growing. Boys and girls are equally affected. Some children are more prone to experiencing frequent and intense pains, while others might only experience two or three incidents in their growing years.
Growing pains can be experienced throughout the entire body but most commonly occur in the stomach and limbs. Growing pains are often intensified in sensation in the afternoon or evening. Sometimes, the pain can wake a child from their sleep.
The exact cause of growing pains is unknown, but the general consensus is that growing bones, tissues and fibres are stretched and moved out of their comfortable space to allow growth spurts.
The intestines are a complicated, lengthy, and delicate organ. As the child grows, the organs grow and stretch. When tissue fibres are torn to build muscle, they give off an aching sensation that causes intense discomfort or pain.
Mystery stomach complaints are the top reason children are often suspected of having and are assessed for appendicitis, only to have the tests come back negative and leave doctors scratching their heads for cause or reason. Even though a child may be in a lot of pain, no damage occurs to the child’s bones or muscles, and growing pains mostly respond to simple heat treatments or mild pain relief.
Children may have growing pains on and off for many years before they cease in mid-adolescence. For some children with pains in their calves, shin splints might be the hidden culprit after doing a lot of running and playing.
Tests to rule out shin splints would be advised if the pains are consistent with exercise-related activity. Growing pains do not affect how a child walks and runs and do not make a child unwell. If your child is limping, is complaining of pain during the day, is unwell, or if the leg is sore to touch, you are not dealing with growing pains but something that requires immediate First Aid treatment and assessment by a doctor. They may have an infection or an injury not visible at a surface level.
Treatment For Growing Pains
If the pain lasts longer than a day or is unrelenting and continuous over several hours, always see your doctor for an assessment to eliminate any other potential cause of pain. Things that may help your child manage their growing pain should be age-appropriate in nature.
- For toddlers, plenty of cuddles and reassurance that the pain will go away and that their pains will go away on their own, combined with a small chocolate to distract them from the pain, will go a long way. Chocolate helps everyone deal with most things in life, and even if it doesn’t help medically, it can have a placebo effect and often, that can be enough for the child to subconsciously switch off their pain register.
- Massaging the painful area can provide some relief; at the very least, it allows for some emotional bonding time with the child.
- Heat treatments are always a go-to option. Warm baths, heat packs, hot water bottles, and topical creams designed to heat the skin, like Tiger Balm or Deep Heat, can effectively eliminate or greatly reduce the pain.
- As a last resort, age-appropriate mild pain medications may assist in reducing or eliminating persisting pain. Even if you don’t believe they need medication, sugar pills purchased from the chemist can act as a placebo and soothe the child while doing no harm unless your child has pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes. If your child is diabetic, seek alternative options for chocolate and sugar pill substitutes with your pharmacist.
Take a good look at your child’s posture and gait. Do they stand tall or slouch? Are their feet splayed in either an inward or outwards direction, one more so than the other causing them to trip frequently or stumble a lot? Pidgeon-toed children are easily corrected with a visit to a podiatrist who will assess them and advise on corrective measures.
If you are thinking Forest Gump-style braces, unless your child has serious clinical issues that require correction and are no longer considered growing pains, that simply will not happen. Sole inserts correct most conditions in adolescents and do not cost much to purchase.
Growing Pains First Aid In The Home
At the end of the day, a parent’s intuition is usually the best guide in most cases. You know your children and their baseline, and your internal Spidey senses sound off when something isn’t right.
Having the latest skills and knowledge in First Aid and CPR is a must for any home and gives a measure of reassurance that allows you to know for certain when your child needs First Aid attention and when they need some love, chocolate and reassurance.
First Aid Course Experts offer a range of nationally accredited courses and have a location near you. Visit our home page to find the course and venue near you. While there, check out our FACE Blog page for extra inspiration, motivation and education.