We actually know very little about growing pains apart from that some children get sore arms or legs at the end of the day and they usually wake up feeling better in the morning.
Chiropractic care can help interrupt the pain cycle in children
Text neck or tech neck
Many children now spend between 5 to 7 hours a day on their smartphones or handheld devices. This is causing a 21st century epidemic called ‘text neck‘ or tech neck that comes from hours of bending forward to look at devices. Text neck or tech neck results in changes in the bones, ligaments, and muscles that support the head and causes postural changes and pain in the neck and other related areas.
Children with Growing Pain
Children with growing pains often get headaches. Headaches in children are very common. Kids who suffer from headaches often go on to become adults who suffer from severe headache syndromes. One very important cause of headaches in kids is prolonged static postures – which is a scientific way of describing text neck or tech neck.
We’ve all heard of growing pains right? But did you know that what we call growing pains aren’t associated with growing?1 So they’re not actually growing pains at all. This has led doctors to start calling growing pains different names like “benign nocturnal limb pains of childhood.” Which really means that your child has sore arms or legs at night, they don’t know why, but they don’t think it’s a major problem. We actually know very little about growing pains apart from that some children get sore arms or legs at the end of the day and they usually wake up feeling better in the morning.
Unfortunately, there is no easy test that tells a doctor whether these pains are something that will go away by themselves or whether they are actually due to a very real problem that your child needs help with.1 We now know that if your child suffers from pain you shouldn’t just assume that they will ‘grow out of it.’ Studies have shown that when children develop pain like neck pain and back pain when they are young, which is also surprisingly common,2-4 they very often get worse over time, with the pain becoming chronic, more intense, spreading to different locations and becoming much more frequent as they get older.2 3 By the time children turn 18 they have the same amount of back pain as adults, which is a real problem, because low back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world.2
It’s probably not too surprising that our children are experiencing more pain like back pain and headaches than ever before;5 because we know that pain in kids is associated with low levels of physical activity6 and our kids are less active now than they ever were before.7 One reason for this inactivity is many children now spend between 5 to 7 hours a day on their smartphones or handheld devices!4 This is causing a 21st century epidemic called ‘text neck’4 or tech neck that comes from hours of bending forward to look at devices. Text neck or tech neck results in changes in the bones, ligaments and muscles that support the head and causes postural changes and pain in the neck and other related areas.4 It can even cause eye problems and problems with breathing and circulation.4
So, our kids are now taking part in a world-wide experiment to see just how much their health will suffer because of the modern lifestyle that we’re currently leading. Parents need to be aware of this major public health problem and be proactive about the choices they make to help their children. The best place for parents to start is by limiting screen time and encouraging physical activity. Parents should also make sure they don’t assume that if their child is in pain it will go away by itself. They should consider taking their children to see a chiropractor to make sure that their spine and nervous system are working well and aren’t under too much stress because of their device use or lifestyle choices, because chiropractic care really can help.
An example of this comes from a recent research study that looked at the benefits of chiropractic care for kids with recurrent headaches. Headaches in children are very common8. It is a real problem, because they can interfere with school performance, social activities and sports, and kids with frequent headaches suffer from higher levels of stress and depression. Just like so many other types of pain, kids who suffer from headaches often go on to become adults who suffer with severe headache syndromes.8 Many things can cause headaches in children, from poor food choices through to trauma on the sports field or playground.8 But, one other very important cause of headaches in kids is prolonged static postures… which is a scientific way of describing text neck or tech neck. A group of researchers wanted to find out whether chiropractic care might help break the headache cycle in kids with recurrent headaches. So they did a study with almost 200 kids (n=199) aged between 7 to 14 who suffered from at least 1 headache a week. They split the kids up to either receive chiropractic care for 4 months or fake chiropractic care for 4 months and they tracked them to see if there were any differences in how many headaches they experienced over the 4 months that they were in the study. What they found was the kids in the chiropractic group had significantly fewer headaches than the kids in the control group and they felt a lot better too. Almost half of the kids in the chiropractic group reported that their headaches had improved during the study which was a really good result for those children!
This study shows one example of how chiropractic care can help interrupt the pain cycle in children, which is really important because we know that kids who are in pain very often become adults who are in pain. 2 3 Your brain basically learns to be in pain. Because remember that chiropractic care isn’t just about treating pain. Chiropractic care is all about improving the communication between your brain and your body so you can function at your optimal potential. It’s also good to know that chiropractic care is safe for kids and babies.9 10 So, make sure your child’s spine and nervous system are in great shape by taking them to see your family chiropractor and give them the best possible start in life.
- Lehman PJ, Carl RL. Growing Pains. Sports Health 2017;9(2):132-38. doi: 10.1177/1941738117692533 [published Online First: 2017/02/09]
- Aartun E, Hartvigsen J, Wedderkopp N, et al. Spinal pain in adolescents: prevalence, incidence, and course: a school-based two-year prospective cohort study in 1,300 Danes aged 11-13. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2014;15:187. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-187 [published Online First: 2014/06/03]
- Kjaer P, Wedderkopp N, Korsholm L, et al. Prevalence and tracking of back pain from childhood to adolescence. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2011;12:98. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-12-98 [published Online First: 2011/05/18]
- Fares J, Fares MY, Fares Y. Musculoskeletal neck pain in children and adolescents: Risk factors and complications. Surg Neurol Int 2017;8:72-72. doi: 10.4103/sni.sni_445_16
- Nieswand V, Richter M, Gossrau G. Epidemiology of Headache in Children and Adolescents-Another Type of Pandemia. Curr Pain Headache Rep 2020;24(10):62. doi: 10.1007/s11916-020-00892-6 [published Online First: 2020/08/26]
- Kędra A, Plandowska M, Kędra P, et al. Physical activity and low back pain in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Eur Spine J 2020 doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06575-5 [published Online First: 2020/08/28]
- Tremblay MS, Shields M, Laviolette M, et al. Fitness of Canadian children and youth: results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Health Rep 2010;21(1):7-20. [published Online First: 2010/04/30]
- Lynge S, Dissing KB, Vach W, et al. Effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation versus sham manipulation for recurrent headaches in children aged 7-14 years – a randomised clinical trial. Chiropr Man Therap 2021;29(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12998-020-00360-3 [published Online First: 2021/01/09]
- Todd AJ, Carroll MT, Robinson A, et al. Adverse Events Due to Chiropractic and Other Manual Therapies for Infants and Children: A Review of the Literature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014 doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.09.008 [published Online First: 2014/12/03]
- Doyle MF. Is chiropractic paediatric care safe? A best evidence topic. Clinical Chiropractic 2011;14(3):97-105. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clch.2011.06.004