Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - Page 11 News List

The myth of ‘growing pains’
少年「成長痛」 醫生︰運動過頭

Children roller-skate at a roller rink in Hsinchu County on April 10.

Photo: Huang Mei-chu, Liberty Times

Many households with adolescents have heard complaints like, “Mom my leg is tingling and hurts again.” After taking them to the hospital and finding no cause it is usually chalked up to “growing pains.” Hsieh Kuo-hsiung, an orthopedic surgeon at Catholic Mercy Hospital, says that there is no medical term for growing pains, and that the pains are merely caused by too much exercise.

Hsieh says that many parents with children going through puberty ask him what growing pains are and where the pains usually occur. He usually replies that unless the child’s leg pains are from frequently falling or other abnormal incidents, the pains are most likely because the child has hit puberty and their muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments are being overworked by an increase in physical activity and excessive exercise. This type of pain can occur regardless of age, he says.

After talking with one parent who brought her eighth-grade son to the hospital, Hsieh soon discovered that the boy had been playing basketball obsessively, often going with classmates after school. Another patient, a fourth grade girl, who came in because of extreme pain in her heels, had been immoderately practicing ballet for an upcoming recital — over-exercising the muscles.

He says that it is easiest to discover pains that a child is having during puberty, and people simply sustain the myth that pain felt during that period is some sort of “growing pain,” mistakenly assuming that after the pain subsides the child will be taller than before. Hsieh says that it is a bittersweet way of dealing with the pain, and that there is no reason to worry too much or take unnecessary medication because of the pains.

The situation can be improved simply by controlling the amount of physical activity one gets, Hsieh says, adding that resting, putting heat on the troubled area, taking a hot bath or raising the hurting leg can all help alleviate the discomfort. (Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)






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