Growing pains and how to manage them

Osteopaths can treat a variety of things in children and teenagers, whether it be for acute sporting injuries, to help manage conditions such as Sever’s or Osgoods, or to help with growth spurts.

Growing pains

Growing pain describes the soreness that accompanies growth in children, and although they can be quite painful, they are essentially a harmless pain. Although growing pain specifically affects the age ranges of 3-5 years and 8-11 years, growing pains can affect any aged child or teen. Pain may be experienced in the legs – often the calf, front of thigh or behind the knees – and is often worse in the afternoon or evening, or after physical activity. Occasionally the pain can be bad enough to wake a child from their sleep.

The cause of growing pains is unknown, and is often mistakenly thought that the pain is caused by the growth of bones. Yet bones grow slowly, even during growth spurts, and this slow growth does not cause pain. As your bones grow your muscles stretch to compensate, and take a little while to become accustomed to their new length – this is a theory as to why growing pains occur.

Some children have growing pains on and off for many years, but usually they go by mid-adolescence. For some children, there is more pain after they have been doing a lot of running and playing, but not all children have this pattern of play then pain.


When any child or adolescent is complaining of soreness in their legs (or anywhere in the body for that matter), you first want to rule out any other non-musculoskeletal cause for their pain. Reassurance is important too – many kids haven’t experienced musculoskeletal pain before, so it is beneficial to remind them that no damage is happening to the child’s bones or muscles, and growing pains can respond to simple management.

So what can you do to help manage growing pains?

  • Use ice or heat packs on the sore areas to help soothe and manage the pain
  • Self massage using magnesium oil or cream
  • Assessment and treatment by an osteopath to help determine if there is an underlying cause for the growing pains, such as poor lower limb biomechanics, weak or tight muscles, or stiffness in the ankle, knee and hip.

Below, we have our osteopath Dr Ella Waite demonstrating some simple exercises that your child and teenager can perform daily to help reduce the symptoms of growing pains!

A running analysis, is something that would be very beneficial in active teenagers who are experiencing any lower limb pain. Our osteopath James can assess your child’s running style to see if there is anything else involved in weight-bearing which may be contributing to their pain. As osteopaths we look holistically at the body, and there may be other areas (such as the knee, hip or lower back) which aren’t moving effectively that could be contributing to growing pains.

If you have any questions about growing pains and how we can help you at Total Balance, give us a call on on (03) 9773 8085! Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.

Sarah @ Total Balance Healthcare



This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

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