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Growth and Associated Problems in Children

Growth and Associated Problems

All you parents out there who get woken up early on a Sunday morning with a distressed child at the foot of your bed complaining of leg pains. This is a blog you’re going to want to read as it’s all about growing pains. Growth is one of the most common questions I get asked about in clinic and all the problems that come alongside growing:

  1. Growing pains
  2. Growth spurts
  3. Increased clumsiness
  4. Increased chances of issues such as:
    Severs Disease
    Osgood Schlatter’s Disease

    Sprains/ Strains

Growing pains – What are they? Its rotten luck isn’t it, everyone grows, you can’t help how quickly or slowly you do it, it’s fully out of our control and yet, we have to suffer the consequences of doing it. New research now suggests that you don’t only get growing pains from suddenly doubling in height you can get them even if your little one isn’t the tallest one in class.  Within the physio world they now use the term;“recurrent nocturnal limb pain in children” – a bit long winded don’t you think!.

So how will you know if your child has “recurrent nocturnal limb pain” … without stating the obvious, they will have repeated episodes of pain in the legs, shins, calves or ankles at night. Now that is a pretty vague explanation as there are lots of other reasons your child could get night pains but if they are severe enough for them to  still have pain into the day or walk with a limp it is unlikely to be true growing pains and therefore it is recommended you get in touch with us at the Back and Body Clinic – even if it’s just for some friendly advice!!

In the meantime, you can help ease the symptoms by rubbing/ massaging your child’s legs, use a hot water bottle/ wheat bag to relax the muscles and ease the pain, take pain relief as prescribed by your GP and finally try and do regular stretches throughout the day to help stretch out the muscles and stop them cramping up.

Growth Spurts – when to expect them? What to look out for? And what to do?

Growing can cause several issues in children that can be painful in the day time so:

How can I preempt my child is about to go through a growth spurt and what should I do?

The science (hopefully written in an easy to read way)

We’re pretty much constantly growing from birth until we reach full skeletal maturity between the ages of 18 and 20 (dependent on your gender, girls reach skeletal maturity first).

In the first year of life we have the most significant growth – growing an average of 25cm in length and tripling our birth weight – now that’s pretty impressive! Thereafter we continue to grow, often characterized by a last minute dash to the shoe shop the week before the start of the new term, followed by a mad rush to see if the school shop have the next size trousers in stock as the last pair are 2 inches off the floor.

With this in mind, it makes sense that when we grow it’s our extremities (hands and feet) that grow first followed by everything else. So, once our hands and feet have grown, we basically work up the body from our furthest extremities inwards. So next to grow is our arms and legs… starting with shins and forearms then followed by the thighs and arms before the last bit of growth we see in our spine and broadening of our chest in boys and our hips & pelvis in girls… But when does all this happen?

Well, as I’ve said in a previous blog post on walking “every child is different”. However, there are guidelines to help us pre-empt growth but also looking out for signs and symptoms such as the need to get new shoes, which is probably the easiest way to identify the first sign that your child is about to go through a growth spurt, and it’s at this time that its most pivotal to ensure your child protects their body to prevent injury.


The best way to protect our bodies during periods of growth is by doing regular stretches and to take the pressure off your muscles by slightly altering your training program if you’re sporty. It is also probably a sensible time to visit your physio so that you can be advised on what exercises and stretches are most appropriate and avoid getting injured in the first place!

  • Increased clumsiness – why your child might suddenly experience a hattrick of falls or a call to the school office for suddenly being increasingly fidgety

Another associated factor to growing (frustratingly) is increased clumsiness. Why? Because basically our bones and muscles grow too quickly, and our brain cannot keep up. This means that until our brain ‘catches up’ our center of gravity is in a completely different place which can make us clumsier and also more fidgety. On average we grow at 6cm per year from 1 until puberty, but during our fastest periods of growth, boys can grow up to 9cm (usually between age 14-15) in a year and girls can grow up to 8cm in a year (usually between age 12-13) …it’s no wonder our brains can’t quite keep track!

  • Increased injury risk

Another associated issue with growing is an increased risk of injury. Muscles attach to bones, it’s what makes us so strong. However, when we grow, our bones grow rapidly, but our muscles take time to stretch in line with the speed at which our bones have grown, therefore this predisposes us to injury. Common injuries associated with growth are:

  • Sprains/ Strains

If you have any concerns about your child during a period of growth or pre-empt a growth spurt and want a pre-habilitative assessment and treatment, as well as some advice on what to do to prevent injury, please contact us directly and we will book you in 😊

Contact the clinic – Moulton 01604 493066

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