What we’ll cover
What to do when your child has growing pains
Do you want to know more about how physiotherapy can help your child’s health problems and injuries? Our physiotherapist Jason Lee explores adolescent conditions and what you can do to prevent your child from getting injured.
Adolescent conditions vary for a wide variety of reasons. Adolescent musculoskeletal pain generally occurs from the age of 11 onwards until growth phases have finished. This pain affects boys and girls equally however it often affects girls sooner due to development occurring faster in females.
Common conditions that we see for adolescents include:
- Osgood schlatters
- Sever’s disease
- Plantar fasciitis
- Patella-femoral or knee cap maltracking
- Scheurmann’s disease.
What are common symptoms of growth pains?
Growth pains commonly occur around periods during and following growing spurts/rapid growth. The pain is commonly aggravated by sporting activities either during or after physical activity.
Early symptoms include pain that may appear to increase or decrease with further activity, however as symptoms progress, pain increases in severity. Symptoms may also occur with less activity and even after activity has ceased, especially several hours afterwards or the next morning.
In these cases with adolescents, parents are well placed to observe and notice any subtle and gradual changes over time.
Why do growing pains occur?
Commonly, the long bones such as the femur (hip) and tibia (shin) grow at a faster rate than the muscles themselves. This can cause the muscle length and flexibility to be reduced.
As a result of this decreased muscle length, flexibility increases force and pulls on tendons, which can result in Sever’s. This decreased muscle length can also cause tendons to pull on epiphyseal sites such as around the achilles or quadriceps, which results in conditions such as Osgood schlatters. These conditions can develop regardless of age as they follow physical activity overload.
Adolescents suffer more from conditions such as Osgood schlatters because they have an immature skeletal system whereas adults usually develop tendonitis/tendinopathy instead.
Biomechanics combined with growth spurts can also affect and increase likelihood of adolescent musculoskeletal pain. Biomechanical factors can include factors such as foot posture. For example, foot positioning and posture is developed by the time a child is six years old. This can be addressed with appropriate footwear for foot type and for specific type of activity.
We commonly recommend a shoe such as a cross trainer for sports that involve rapid change of direction. Cross trainers offer better support for rapid stopping and changing direction as well as increasing the longevity of the shoe.
How can I prevent my child from getting injured?
To avoid injury, your child should perform a proper warm up and cool down. Warming up should consist of dynamic movements designed to replicate training or game. They need to be age and sport specific. Cooling down commonly includes static stretches (holding stretches for 15 – 30 sec). Cooling down can even involve the use of equipment like foam roller/spikey ball etc. It is also important to vary sporting load throughout week.
Research suggests that early specialisation of sports/niching at a young age increases likelihood of injury. Cross training and a variety of sports are recommended. It is important to note that if children/adolescents are beginning to specialise, your physiotherapist will work in conjunction with sporting coach and those involved to ensure training program is balanced to prevent injury and improve performance.
Addressing and treating symptoms early ensures least amount of time if any required out of sport. Physiotherapists can even perform injury screenings to identify and reduce the likelihood of injury. They can also thoroughly assess flexibility and strength for range of joints that are commonly affected.
Here at Malvern East Physiotherapy, we are big believers in seeking help early and also making treatment age appropriate.
We commonly see a wide variety of adolescents who perform sport at all levels, and we aim to work with all involved, such as parents and coaches. This way we can ensure that your child can keep active and injury free.
If your child is experiencing any of the conditions listed above, please book in to see one of our qualified physiotherapists as soon as possible. You can book online or call our friendly team on 9571 6888.