Growing pains are common among children. As many as one in five children experience some degree of this real, but quite harmless muscular pain during early year.

Growing pains are most prominent between the ages of three to five and eight to eleven. The most common complaints include limp pain that has started for no real reason. Sometimes pain may occur after exercise, but this is not always the case as children often experience just as much discomfort without any physical activity. In most cases, growing pain usually ceases by mid-adolescence.


  • Most children tend to experience pain in the legs, particularly the thighs, calves and behind the knee.
  • Arm pain is far less common and pain does not tend to change with movement.
  • Pain episodes can occur as frequently as nightly through to weekly or monthly.
  • Complaints of pain are most common in the late afternoon and evening and can often affect the child’s sleep with pain usually gone by morning.
  • Normal daily activity is typically unaffected, with pain during the day being fairly uncommon.
  • Children may also experience other forms of discomfort such as headaches or abdominal pain during an episode of growing pain.

What Can Physiotherapy Do?

Some specific musculoskeletal conditions that occur during growth spurts include Osgood-Schlatter’s disease in the knee and Sever’s disease in the heel. There are some other more serious conditions that can mimic the symptoms of growing pain, such as infections, viruses and juvenile arthritis. It is therefore important to have your child assessed by a physiotherapist to rule these out.

Once your child has been cleared of other conditions and a diagnosis of Growing Pain has been made, a physiotherapist at Watsonia Physiotherapy can assist with managing discomfort while eliminating other pain factors:

  • Analysing child biomechanics: If the child sits, stands, walks or runs awkwardly, they may be placing unnecessary stress on their muscles. By identifying characteristics such as tight muscles, flat feet and knock knees, our physiotherapists can tailor a treatment plan. This may include massage, stretching, strengthening and advice about appropriate footwear which will help minimise the load placed on already painful areas.
  • Muscle fatigue: If there is a close relationship between extra activity and complaints of pain, our physiotherapists can formulate a strategy to prevent ‘overdoing it’ during the day. This might include short rest breaks or activities like reading and drawing more intense sporting activities.
  • Emotional distress: There can sometimes be a psychological component to growing pain. Our physiotherapists can reassure you and your child that the pain will ease and there will be no lasting damage caused by the pain.