Is My Child Experiencing “Growing Pains”?

If you have kids (or once were a kid) you probably know a little something about “growing pains.” This vague, unhelpful term is often used by physicians to explain away leg and foot pain in children and teenagers. But there could be a lot more behind your child’s foot and leg pain than just a growth spurt.

Are “Growing Pains” Real?

If you’re asking if kids experience pain as they grow… then yes, that’s real. But if you’re asking if growth itself is the cause of the pain… then no, that’s not the case. In the legs and feet, children and teens may experience general pain or an aching feeling. This is most often felt in the calves and thighs.

However, while many doctors will dismiss these symptoms as minor and temporary, your FAAWC podiatrists know that there could be a real structural condition that is leading to this pain. Without treatment of the underlying conditions, kids may grow up to have additional foot and ankle problems. 

The Conditions Behind “Growing Pains”

Calf Tightness

“Growing pains” are often associated with pain in the calf muscles. As kids grow bigger and become more active, their calf muscles are having a difficult time keeping up with the strain. This can also occur because bones and muscles don’t always grow at the same rate.

If your child is experiencing pain in their calf muscles, one of the best things to start with is stretching. Calf stretching helps build and elongate muscles and can relieve temporary pain. Applying heat may also help soothe symptoms.

Flat Feet

Your arches are vitally important to the mechanics of using your feet. If your child has fallen arches or flat feet then they will experience misalignment of their ankles and legs as they walk. This can lead to pain anywhere from the bottoms of the feet to the legs and through the back and neck.

When your child’s arches are supported with orthotics or inserts, their gait will return to center and they will avoid a lifetime of potential foot issues and pain. Many pains associated with childhood can be traced back to poor foot structure and inaccurate stepping.

Ligament Laxity

Along with muscles and bones, ligaments are also changing as kids grow. In childhood, ligaments are as flexible as rubber bands. As adults, you can imagine their strength more like a tightrope. Big difference!

Kids with very loose joints will experience excessive movement and flexibility. The ankle and foot are not supported, thus resulting in twisted ankles, low arches, and general pain. 

Poor Shoe Choices

So much of what happens to our feet depends on the choices we make with our shoes. This is especially true for kids. As feet grow rapidly, shoes can become tight and cramp toes or squeeze the foot inward. But buying shoes too large to “grow into” can mean your child’s foot isn’t fully supported.

Kids need properly sized shoes that offer full support during their growth period. While many kids prefer flip flops or going barefoot, enclosed or secure shoes with arch support are the best option.

Almost every child will report some mysterious pain or other during their growing years. While some may dismiss this as a product of growth, we know that your child needs a closer look to uncover the true reason behind their foot or leg pain. Don’t delay in making an appointment to discuss these important issues today!

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