Modified from the ICPA
By Dr. Hannah Anderson
“Ouch! My legs hurt!”
Have you ever had your child wake up in the middle of the night complaining of leg pains?
Do you remember having them as a child?
These are commonly referred to as “growing pains” and can be defined as recurrent leg pain in children ages 2–12 years. The term “growing pains” was first seen in medical literature in 1823. And back then, there were many different explanations for these pains. Some said they were a symptom of rheumatic fever, but were proved wrong later.
So, what are Growing Pains?
Although there are no known medical causes, theories range from muscle fatigue to juvenile arthritis. A South Australian study published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics found that approximately 36.9% of children 4–6 years of age experienced growing pains. Nearly one third of the children in the population! These leg pains are usually brushed off as normal occurrences by medical doctors who contribute them to daily physical activity. Parents are given few to no options for treatment from pediatricians (occasionally they will suggest massaging the legs and using tylenol). Parents are told this is normal during the growth process and it will pass.
Most parents would like a little more comfort that this, especially when they’ve awoken to their child’s cries night after night. Should we accept this weak diagnosis of “growing pains” that affect 25%– 40% of children?
Are there other options available to alleviate these leg pains?
What about chiropractic care? From a chiropractic standpoint, we look at biomechanics and use our understanding of the growth process. The first five years of a child’s life is the time of greatest spinal growth. During the first year of life, the spine increases 12 cm in length and another 15 cm between 1 and 5 years of age. That’s a lot of growing in a small amount of time!
Between 5 and 10 years of age, the growth rate decreases to 10 cm. There’s another increase at puberty between approximately 10 and 18 years of age with 20 cm of spinal grown in males and 15 cm in females. Logically, if something interferes with this growth process, there may be problems. Here’s a few possible ways the growth process can be disturbed:
1.What if a child was put into a baby walker before his/ her body was ready to walk?
a.This premature walking assistance can alter biomechanics, leading to postural abnormalities, disruption of proper locomotion skills, and also injury to the child.
2.Birth trauma (all that pushing and pulling during a hospital birth can do a number on our joints!).
5.Overly sedentary lifestyles
These are common things, but they should be addressed by a chiropractor, rather than leaving them to do spinal damage.
Many children also have complaints of spinal pain in addition to the leg pain. There is little medical research tends to focus only on growing in the legs. Chiropractors look at the body as a whole and not as separate parts. Chiropractors recognize that, if there’s stress in one area of the body, the rest of the body will somehow compensate for this stress.
How Does Chiropractic Help?
Chiropractors work with the spine and nervous system. The nervous system controls every system, organ, and cell in the body. The spinal column houses the nerves, with nerve roots exiting between each spinal bone, called vertebrae. Stress overload, such as physical, emotional, or chemical stress affects the function of the nervous system. And the nervous system can affect any system or organ of the body. The doctor of chiropractic performs a thorough exam of the child’s spine and locates areas of misalignment contributing to this nerve system stress. The specific chiropractic adjustment restores nervous system function and the child’s WHOLE body benefits!
Growing pains is one common disorder resulting from nerve system stress. The child may feel leg pain, which can range from an achy, throbbing feeling to a sharp pain. Wacky biomechanics and spinal misalignments creates imbalances in the leg muscles, which may contribute to leg pain. See how this is coming full circle?!
Additionally, pelvic misalignment can lead to leg-length inequalities; so the child is unevenly distributing his or her weight, placing additional stress and strain not only on the spine, but feet, ankles, and knees as well.
If you child has leg pains both day or night, and rubbing his legs, give little to no relief, visit a pediatric chiropractor (like Dr. Anderson)!
For more information visit: www.pathwaystofamilywellness.org and www.icpa4kids.org.
Back in Line BLOG
Drs. Nate, CJ, and Hannah will take turns sharing information they stumble across from certain research, publications, or may just post a quick healthy tidbit to keep you motivated to leading a happier, healthier lifestyle!