The Truth About Growing Pains

Do you know the truth about growing pains and when a physio can help?

November 12, 2022

Myth: Growing Bones Cause pain

FACT: During adolescence, our bones are made up of hard and soft structures. The soft bone is referred to as growth plates, as they are made of cartilage and are able to grow in size and lengthen the bone as we develop. Because the soft bone is more flexible, it’s susceptible to traction forces caused by tight or overused muscles.

When repetitively stressed, the bone can become inflamed and irritable, resulting in reduced sensitivity to loading and traction.


- Pain during or following certain activities.

- Pain after prolonged periods of inactivity (e.g. first thing in the morning)

- Night pain particularly following a day of high loads

- Bruised sensation & swelling over area of pain

- Weakness & reduced performance of activity

Common areas for growing pains

- Foot

- Knee

- Pelvis/hip

- Elbow

- Shoulder

General management advice:

  • Ice after an aggravating activity.
  • Participate in a functional warm up to prepare muscles and bones for load during an activity.
  • Use a targeted strengthening program to increase the capacity of muscles & bones to tolerate and share load.
  • Braces/tape can help de-load tissue to facilitate continued participation in activity by reducing irritability of pain.
  • **Care needs to be taken when using braces as we want to teach our bodies to support themselves and not become reliant on external support.
  • Massage can help reduce the pain of aggravated structures and physios can teach self-release techniques that can be performed as part of a warm up/down.
  • Adequate sleep is important for proper recovery.
  • Children need 9-11 hours while teens aged 14 -17 require 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep (According to the physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians).
  • Rest from aggravating activities if pain management using the above strategies is unsuccessful to allow tissues to calm down and heal.
***Here at The Health Collab we will always try encourage participation in activity and often modifications to training can be made instead of complete removal.