Quite often children complain of pains in their hips, knees, ankles and feet during the time of their growth spurts. These complaints need to be taken seriously because growing pains mirror the symptoms of many childhood rheumatological diseases. There are four patterns of growing pains, and each pattern has its own unique description for describing the child’s pain.
- Pattern I is commonly found in children between the age of three and nine years old and will take place anywhere from two to five times per month. The child will complain of pain in their lower legs in afternoon and early evening; however the pain will not wake the child up and the pain and complaints will be absent in the morning.
- Pattern II is similar to Pattern I, except the knee, ankle and small foot (tarsal) joints is where the child’s pain is occurring.
- Pattern III includes both joint and muscle pains and once again complaints of these pains are in children in the range of three to nine years of age. However, unlike Pattern I, these pains are felt right before the child’s bedtime. Giving the child a warm bath or massage before bed can temporarily relieve these pains.
- Pattern IV occurs two to five times per week and is probably the most concerning to parents and disruptive to other siblings because the child will wake up multiple times in the middle of the night complaining of pain in the legs and feet. Sometimes nightmares can be linked with these growing pains. Pattern IV can be temporarily relieved in the same manner as Pattern III.
If your child is complaining of these growing pain patterns, take them to a podiatrist for further evaluation to avoid missing any serious rheumatological diseases that may surface, as the child gets older. Only after ruling out the presence of all childhood rheumatological diseases, will the diagnosis of growing pains be able to be made. Also, contrary to the belief that growing pains are just a phase and the child will just “grow out of them,” there is a treatment that can alleviate these growing pains. Custom orthoses made by a podiatrist can help because these pains are possibly the result of inappropriate use or overuse of a joint, so if the child can be aligned properly, the pain may dissipate.