Growing Pains

Growing Pains

After a few weeks of football training and weekend games, and school sport, and running outside… we might hear our kids complain of increased pain after or during activity. Some of these aches are often attributed to “growing pains” but what are they? and when you should seek further advice?

Growing pains are a common complaint in children (particularly active ones!) and although they can be quite painful, they aren’t usually cause for serious concern.

Growing pain affects kids from as young as 3 years old and the cause of many pains is not yet clear.

Some types of growing pains are quite prevalent in footballers, particularly through periods of rapid growth. These are a few of the more common types we see in the clinic:

  • Osgood-Schlatter “disease” is a common knee complaint in boys and girls as they approach adolescence. Players will present with pain just below their knee and may have a larger bump on the upper part of their shin. It is caused by an inflammation of a growth plate where the quadriceps attach to. Our quadriceps work hard when running, jumping and kicking so limiting these activities may help.
  • Sever’s “disease” is a similar condition affecting the heel. The achilles tendon pulls on the heel where another growth plate may become inflamed (also known as calcaneal apophysitis). It tends to affect active children between the ages of 8-12 who are growing rapidly. 
  • Traction growth plate injuries (tendons pulling on the bone) can also commonly occur around the pelvis, usually in teenagers around 13-16yrs old.

So what should we do and when do we need to seek further advice?

General principles for management are:

  • Modify or limit the amount of aggravating activities (e.g. half training sessions, less shooting or sprinting, more regular substitutions, play goalkeeper at training/game if appropriate). Most of these conditions are self-limiting ie if it starts hurting too much, stop.
  • Ice following activity to reduce inflammation
  • Work on flexibility – sometimes stretches may be sore so consider a foam roller

When to seek further advice from your GP or Physiotherapist:

  • Clarification of diagnosis
  • Pain is stopping you from participating in training sessions
  • Night pain or pain not associated with activity
  • Guidance for external devices such as braces, taping, orthotics etc to assist with a faster and safer return to activity
  • Advice and guidance on exercises to help improve the way your body moves which can sometimes be a large contributor to symptoms.

Keep having fun and stay football fit!

Michael Reynolds

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