When my daughter was five years old, she had pains in her legs. A visit to the doctor’s later; she had been diagnosed with “growth pains”.
Growth pains affect 3 to 37 % of children. They usually hit in two stages: in early childhood between 3 and 5 years old and later, between 8 and twelve years old.
Nobody really knows what growth pains are, although they tend to be found in the same family and seem to disappear spontaneously at the end of childhood.
According to Goodyear-Smith, “growth pains are usually non-articular bilateral and intermittent pains that occur in the evening or at night in children aged 3 to 12 years. The diagnosis of growth pain is one of exclusion.” 1 Curiously, despite its “growth pains” appellation, this pain does not seem to be related to growth.
Here are the common symptoms of growth pains2
- For 2 children out of 3, the pain is located in the shins, calves, thighs or behind the knees.
- The pain is almost always on both sides.
- The pain usually appears towards the end of the day or at night, often waking the child.
- The duration of the pain can vary from a few minutes to a few hours.
- The intensity can range from mild to very severe.
- In the morning, the child is almost never in pain.
- There are no objective signs of inflammation on physical examination.
- The pain comes in episode with pain-free periods lasting from several days to several months, although the pain can also be present every day.
- 43% of children have episodes of growth pains at least once a week.
- Parents can often predict when the child will feel pain after days of increased activity.
The view of a licensed naturopath is that growth pains are related to an imbalance in the absorption of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silica and fluorine. An excess of sugar and protein can also disrupt the child’s body. Sugar acidifies the body.
It was found that children who eat a lot of dairy products are more likely to suffer from growth pains than other children. We must not forget that milk is rich in proteins and it is possible to have too much. An excess in acidic proteins acidifies tissues and can cause bone pain, muscle pain, and even irritability and fatigue. Beef is the most acidifying meat. Also be aware that foods from animal sources are rich in arachidonic acid, which stimulates inflammation and therefore pain.
Some dietary advice
- Reduce the consumption of dairy products and red meat.
- Cut sugars, juices, chocolate soy milk, cookies and candy.
- Give nuts and seeds. Try sunflower and pumpkin seeds or nut butters such as almond or sesame butters. These are excellent sources of calcium.
- Eat fishes that are rich in omega-3, 2-3 times per week like herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon. Omega-3s help fight inflammation.
More useful tips
Nothing soothes a child in pain better than the warm hands of his parents. A massage is an excellent way of relaxing and soothing muscle pain. You can also use arnica in oil or cream form. I also like to use an oil to which I add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Lavender soothes and calms children, helping them sleep.
- Don’t forget the benefits of a warm bath to which you can add a lavender product.
- Try biochemical salt n 13+. 2-3 tablets once to twice a day, before meals, for 2 to 3 months. This product helps balance the absorption of minerals by the body.
Note that a lack of vitamin D may have a role in growth pains in children. All children with pain should be tested for vitamin D. A research has shown that only 6% of children with growth pains had normal vitamin D levels!3
Growth pains are avoidable and unnecessary during childhood. Food is always linked with the health of the body. Do not hesitate to consult a licensed naturopathic doctor to optimize your health and that of your children.