Posts Tagged ‘growing pains’

Stay Hip to Your Teen’s Aches & Pains

Posted on: April 21st, 2023

Jay Savage, MD

Occasional aches in the hip or groin may not be something to worry about when it comes to your teen.   But chronic hip pain in young athletes that doesn’t improve could be a sign of hip injury, which has become a growing concern particularly in high-impact sports such as soccer, basketball, and football. These injuries can range from minor strains and sprains to more serious conditions such as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and hip dysplasia.

What are FAI and Hip Dysplasia?

FAI is a condition in which the bones of the hip joint rub against each other, leading to pain and cartilage damage. This condition can develop in adolescence as the hip joint undergoes growth and maturation. Hip dysplasia, on the other hand, is a condition in which the hip joint is improperly formed, leading to instability and an increased risk of dislocation.

Both FAI and hip dysplasia can cause significant pain and disability in adolescents, particularly those who are active in sports. Dancers, hurdlers, and baseball catchers are among those at risk, with activities that involve the hip moving beyond its normal constraints.

What Are the Risk Signs for Hip Pain?

It’s important for parents, coaches, and dance instructors to know the risk signs in their young athletes and performers:

  • Chronic hip or groin pain that interferes with sports or performance
  • Any history of hip issues in the family
  • The difference between growing pains and chronic hip pain. Growing pains typically occur in children under the age of 10, felt in the legs, knees, or hips at night after an active day.  The child is usually up and about the next day, while chronic hip pain prevents typical activity at a normal intensity.

Hip Arthroscopy for Hip Joint Pain

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent further damage to the hip joint. One surgical technique that has gained popularity in recent years for the treatment of FAI is hip arthroscopy. This minimally invasive procedure involves the insertion of a small camera into the hip joint, allowing the surgeon to visualize and treat the damaged tissues. During the procedure, the surgeon may remove bone spurs or repair damaged cartilage to alleviate pain and improve joint function.

Hip arthroscopy has several advantages over traditional open surgery, including a faster recovery time, less pain and scarring, and a reduced risk of complications. However, it is important to note that not all adolescents with hip injuries are candidates for hip arthroscopy, and a thorough evaluation by a qualified orthopedic surgeon is necessary to determine the best course of treatment.

Stretch and Strengthen – A Helpful Hip Solution

In addition to surgery, physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments may also be effective for managing hip pain in young athletes. Strengthening exercises, stretching, and activity modification can help alleviate pain and improve joint function. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Overall, hip injuries in adolescents can be a challenging problem to manage, particularly in young athletes.  However, with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, many adolescents with hip injuries can recover and return to their normal activities.

April, 2023

The Truth about Growing Pains

Posted on: January 29th, 2020

Dr. Jason Determann

Has your young one ever complained of general aches and pains… that have you stumped? The phenomenon we call “growing pains” is one of the most common causes of recurrent musculoskeletal discomfort in children. First described by a French physician in the early 1800s, we have spent nearly two centuries trying to get a better grasp on the exact cause and best treatment for such a common problem.

What Exactly are Growing Pains?

So what are growing pains?  The syndrome is described as intermittent pain, usually in the lower extremities, that occurs late in the day or early evening. The pain is typically gone in the morning and not worsened by physical activities. Discomfort with growing pains usually begins between the ages of 3 and 6, with the average age around 8 years old. Despite the coined term “growing pains,” there’s no direct connection to rapid growth.

The search for a cause hasn’t been completely successful.  Theories include:

  • generalized hyperlaxity (loose ligaments,)
  • psychological stress that leads to somatic symptoms
  • deficiency in blood flow
  • low vitamin D levels
boy having back examined

How Do I Know if Growing Pains are Something More?

The diagnosis is one of exclusion. Simply stated, “Everything checks out OK.” A few highlights:

Characteristic Typical Findings
Pain Location Bilateral
Lower Extremity (calves, thighs, shins)
Timing/Onset Late afternoon/evening
Resolution by morning
Not activity related
Severity Improves with massage, over the counter analgesics Does not increase in severity over time
Physical Exam Normal

The first thing we’ll do is look at a full medical history with a thorough physical exam to determine any other potentially serious causes of pain.  That might include fever, malaise, or decreased appetite. If your child can’t put their weight on a leg or has an altered gait (walk), we’re dealing with something beyond growing pains.  Any recent viral illnesses, rashes or travel are clues to alternative diagnosis as well.

If the physical exam is normal, we typically don’t need any further workup to make the diagnosis.  X-rays or bloodwork may be ordered to rule out a more serious condition. These can  include developmental abnormalities, infections, growth plates conditions, or even a remote injury or trauma.

What Relieves Growing Pains?

When the diagnosis of growing pains is made, often reassurance is the only treatment rendered. Some studies have found benefit to stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and calves. Most children get relief with massage to the areas of pain, as well as the addition of heat. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can alleviate some the pain and discomfort.

At the end of the day, the term “growing pains” describes a specific, benign pain syndrome in young children.   Even though we still don’t know much about the underlying causes, there’s no need for long-term concern.   If you have any doubts whatsoever – we’re here to help you sort it out.

“Though he may stumble, he will not fall. For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:24

Jason R. Determann, MD

Dr. Determann received his MD from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, followed by residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  He is Board Certified and Fellowship Trained in Sports Medicine with a specialty in Shoulder & Elbow Surgery.