“Growing Pains”

The term “Growing Pains” refers to pain in the lower legs. There isn’t a single pin-point area where the pain is the worst; it is usually generalized. “Growing pains” also rarely, if ever, occur during the day, but will typically occur at night/bedtime.

A child’s body is continuously growing, yet we never hear about “growing pains” in the arms, thighs, back etc., so why is the pain specific to the lower legs? Furthermore, why would a child almost exclusively experience these pains at night?

“Growing pains” don’t actually occur when our bones are growing because bones don’t actually hurt when they grow. If they did, we would all experience this pain in our entire body until we reached our growth peak.  The leg pain that we commonly refer to as “growing pains” is actually an early symptom of misaligned feet.

Most children have a seemingly endless supply of energy and will take at least 7,000 steps a day. If their feet are misaligned, normal activities such as running, jumping and playing, will cause their muscles to pull on the specialized lining (periosteum) of their leg bones (tibia/fibula). If the strain is more than they can handle, the nerve endings are triggered resulting in “growing pains”. Muscles in a misaligned foot have to work up to 4 or 5 times harder because they are attempting to realign the foot, as well as do their regular job.

Common Questions about “Growing Pains” and Misaligned Feet

Why don’t the “growing pains” occur every night? It depends on how active the child was during the day. The more active the child, the greater the pain they will experience.

Why don’t all children suffer with “growing pains”? Not all children have misaligned feet. A child whose feet are misaligned has a significantly higher chance of developing “growing pains”. Please note: Not all children with misaligned feet will develop this pain. Conversely, it is also extremely rare for a child with aligned feet to develop this pain.

How do I know if my child’s “growing pains” are due to a misalignment? Only a doctor can properly diagnose a misalignment, but a common indicator in children with misaligned feet is that they typically run much slower, and appear less coordinated than their classmates. This is due to the rolling in of the ankles and the fact that their muscles are working up to 4 or 5 times harder than their classmates.

What’s the difference between an aligned and misaligned foot? The ankle bone (talus) should normally sit on top of the heel bone (calcaneus). When the ankle bone is properly aligned on the heel bone, the foot is aligned. When the ankle bone dislocates on the heel bone, this causes the naturally occurring space (the sinus tarsi) inside the hindfoot to collapse.

Will arch supports stabilize a foot misalignment and make growing pains go away? Arch supports only attempt to temporarily correct a misalignment. They cannot permanently realign the foot. Furthermore arch supports only help when a child is wearing shoes. They are also easily misplaced or lost, and can be costly to replace.

Other Common Symptoms of Misaligned Feet

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