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Growing pains - what are they and how can a physio help?

Published: January 19, 2021

Has your child complained of pain without injury or aggravation, seemingly without reason? They may be experiencing growing pains.


What are growing pains?

The reason children experience growing pains is due to their bones growing faster than the soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments. This results in the soft tissues being put on strain and stretching, which can cause pain.

Growing pains are common in children aged 3-5 and 8-12 years old, as two of their key growth stages occur during these years. Growing pains often occur without any incident or injury, and come and go intermittently.

Fun Fact: A growth spurt of 8-10mmm, though it might not sound like a lot, is considered large!

Growing and growing pains do not usually cause any problems to the development of muscles or bones. However, the pain that children experience can cause them to avoid certain movements or adopt different postures which can result in decreased strength and flexibility.

It is important to support children when they are experiencing growing pains, as it can be emotionally straining and exhausting for them as well as being physically painful.


Signs and symptoms of growing pains:
  • The child will point to the muscle and general area compared to a specific spot (e.g. the front of the thigh)
  • The area will generally feel better post massage, pressure and being held. Movement to the leg/joints won’t change pain
  • The area of pain tends to be less sore in the morning
  • The pain will be intermittent  – it comes and goes but isn’t constant
  • The pain may wake your child up at night


How can a physio help?

A physiotherapist can help by assessing if your child’s pain is due to growth or due to any other reasons. They can educate you and your child on ways to help manage the pain, including stretches, massage and regular safe activity. They can help to ensure that you child maintains coordination and good strength in their muscles as they get used to their new height and changes in their body.  

Call 03 6237 0045 to book in with one of our physios and they can discuss education and management of growing pains that your child may be experiencing.

Written by Emily Thompson-Young (APAM, MPhysio, BAppSc)