Are Growing Pains Normal?
About a third of children experience “growing pains.” The cramping type pain, often in the calf muscle or behind the knee is felt at the end of the day or wakes the child through the night. Gentle massage gives some relief, but is often not entirely successful.
The most common age for this to occur is around 3-5 years, but the episodes can last up to adolescence. There doesn’t seem to be any real link between the growth of the child and the occurrence of pain, it is more likely to be associated with muscle fatigue, over-exertion and associated with flat footedness and knock knees. If a child is experiencing leg aches it’s wise to seek the advice of a podiatrist. Leg aches can often be treated with simple shoe insoles made by the podiatrist.
Heel pain in active teens and pre-teens
Active children between the ages of 9 and 14 are prone to a condition called ‘Sever’s Disease’. The heel bone is made up of many growth centers at the ‘back’ of the heel, it’s in this area that pain occurs with activity, and can be severe enough to cause a limp.
Reducing the level of activity, stretching of a tight Achilles tendon, cushioning and footwear advice are the first step to recovery.
If these simple treatments don’t ease the pain, a longer-term treatment plan addressing faulty foot mechanics or foot alignment, with orthoses usually resolves the symptoms.
A podiatrist is trained to assess the cause of ‘Sever’s Disease’ and prescribe appropriate short and long-term treatment to resolve the heel pain.
Stages of growth and development
As the lower limb grows and develops there are noticeable changes to the appearance of the legs and feet.
The foot starts off as very soft cartilage and bone takes most of the developing years through to late teens to fully ossify. The foot not only lengthens with growth but the heel also widens to the adult size. The posture of most legs by age 7-8 is straight, but these legs have already been through phases of being ‘bow legged’ and ‘knock kneed.’ Your podiatrist is trained to recognize the normal stages of development and diagnose potential problems.
Common childhood conditions that are treated by podiatrists include:
Pigeon (in-toeing) or out-toeing gait, assessment of flat feet or high arched feet, unusually shaped feet from birth (club feet) or other shapes that look out of the ordinary.
Some medical conditions such as cerebral palsy particularly affect the lower limbs and can be assisted by podiatric care.