Today kids and teens are playing sports more than ever before. And they’re playing sports at a higher level, year round. It’s common to see kids playing on multiple sports teams that allow them to display their talents and ascend to the next level of competition. Naturally, kids sometimes feel pressure from coaches and parents to perform well at all these events. In short, there is no off-season for many young athletes.
What many parents may not know: an unwanted side effect of all this activity is what’s commonly referred to as “growing pains.” I often see pediatric and adolescent patients with the following symptoms: pain located near any of the joints, but most often in the front of the knees.
Although “growing pains” are common, they should not be shrugged off. In fact, these aches are not caused by simple bone growth, as many would believe. Rather, the pains are caused by repetitive stress placed on the growth plate. Growing pains are actually at the growth center where tendons meet bone. If not treated, it can cause problems for the patient, including the need to wear a brace or, in the case of foot injuries, a therapeutic boot.
Standard treatment for growing pains involves proper stretching, ice, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and possibly rest. Sometimes, our bodies just need time to grow properly. It may also benefit a young patient to play multiple sports, instead of focusing concentrated time and energy on just football, for instance. The adolescent body is not built to perform the same movement over and over again throughout the year.
If you have an active child or teen that’s experiencing growing pains, try these treatments. If the pain persists or interferes with activities, give Emory Sports Medicine a call. With the right treatment, we can help young athletes continue with their favorite sporting activities.
Do you have any questions about childhood growing pains? If so, be sure to let me know in the comments.
About Jeffrey Webb, MD:
Jeffrey Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is the team physician for Decatur High School and several high schools in the Atlanta area. He also is a consulting physician for the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College, and the Atlanta Xplosion, women’s contact football.