Does your child have growing pains?

Are your kids going through a growth spurt and are complaining of sore ankles / back of ankles (Achilles) or sore knees. These pains are fairly common with both girls and boys from the ages of 11-14 and more common in active children. It often starts with a small amount of pain at the bottom of the knee or heels and can affect one or both legs. Most kids will also experience an increase in pain with an increased amount of activity e.g. playing more then one running sport a week, increased training intensity (state or rep teams). These two forms of growing pains are known to physios and doctors as Osgood Schlatters Syndrome or Severs Syndrome.

osgood-schlatter-disease-smallOsgood Schlatters Syndrome (Growing pains in the knees)

Osgoods Schlatters syndrome presents with symptoms of

  • Pain at the bottom of one or both knees
  • Increased pain with running
  • Reduced pain with rest
  • Swollen tibial tuberosity (the bump under the knee cap)
  • Pain with straightening the knee or full squatting

It can be diagnosed with an x-ray or ultrasound however physios also have special tests to help rule out other knee injuries and confirm the diagnosis of Osgoods.

Osgoods Schlatters is caused by the contraction of the quadriceps (or thigh muscle) tendon pulling on the shin bone. For a full grown adult this should not cause pain, however in kids experiencing a growth spurt the repeated action of the tendon pulling on the shin bone aggravates the growing bones causing pain and swelling at the shin bone attachment.


Severs Syndrome (Growing pains in the heels)

Severs syndrome affects the the heel bones at the growth plate. It is similar to Osgoods in that it is caused by the Achilles tendon pullingsevers-disease on the growth plate of the heel bone during a growth spurt and with increased activity. Severs has very similar symptoms to Osgoods and tends to present with

  • Pain at the bottom of one or both heels
  • Increased pain with running
  • Reduced pain with rest
  • Swollen back of heel bone
  • Limping with walking

It can also be diagnosed with an x-ray or ultrasound.

How can Physio help with growing pains?

Growing pains can often be very painful and annoying for active kids. They want to participate in all their sports but are in too much pain to perform at their best. Physio treatment can help by reducing the tension in the muscles that are pulling on the bone (i.e. thigh and calf muscles) as well as prescribing strengthening exercises and strapping to off-load the tendon. It is also important to prescribe relative rest as a form of treatment and our physios at Inspired will help you to prioritise which sport or competition is the best and liaise with your teacher or coach about what your kids can and can’t do at sport.

Take Home Message

Listen to your kids!!! ‘No pain, no gain’ does NOT apply to kids with growing pains. Kids will ultimately grow out of their ‘growing pains’ however we are here to help reduce their pain and assist them in continuing their sport if possible. We will educate your kids on how to manage their pains as they grow and make activity more comfortable.