Not a few people use the term “growing pains” when trying to explain the difficulties, strains and stresses they experience or go through when undertaking, for instance, a new project at work. In fact, many people have become so accustomed to hearing this term used on similar instances, and some people are wondering or asking if there really is such a thing as growing pains.
There indeed is such a thing as growing pains, and one of the many definitions of this condition is, “intermittent aches or pains in legs that occur in the evening…occurring in children aged 3-12 years and may reoccur during puberty…” (embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/Notes/Index/G.htm). As defined here, growing pains affect children usually during the rapid growth period; the condition occurs in about a third of children of both sexes, although girls are more frequently affected than boys.
The pains in this condition usually respond to heat, massage, and a mild analgesic (such as acetaminophen, an antipyretic analgesic). Although the pains may recur again and again, growing pains have no known long-term effects. Ensuring that no serious condition exists is the main concern in this condition.
One proof that growing pains is for real is the condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease. This condition occurs more frequently in very active adolescents. Osgood-Schlatter disease may have such an imposing name, but this form of growing pains really does not pose any serious problem. The main cause of this condition is rapid growth of the upper part of the shinbone; this results to irritation of the tendon that runs from the bone all the way to the kneecap.
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include pain and swelling in the knee and tenderness in the bony protuberance about a couple inches below the kneecap, called tibial tubercle. Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease involves rest which helps lessen the pain. Somehow, this poses a problem as very few active adolescents are inclined to part with their favorite sport.
Realizing this problem, parents should insist on moderate lessening of physical activity. If possible, protective kneepads are worn or used during exercise; applying ice on the affected area after each exercise can help alleviate pain. In some cases of Osgood-Schlatter disease, the pain is severe that immobilizing the knee in a cast may be absolutely needed. The problem of growing pains is outgrown by most adolescents usually by the age of 17 in boys and about a couple years earlier in girls at age 15.
1. “Osgood-Schlatter Disease”, Adolescent Medicine, University of Virginia Health System – http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/UVAHealth/peds_adolescent/osgsch.cfm
2. “Growing Pains”, KidsHealth – for parents – http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/aches/growing_pains.html
3. “Osgood-Schlatter Disease – Cause – Symptoms – Diagnosis – Treatment”, About.com.: Arthritis – http://arthritis.about.com/od/osgoodschlatter/OsgoodSchlatter_Disease_Cause_Symptoms_Diagnosis_Treatment.htm