The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Web Extra

August 5, 2013

Are growing pains real?

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Growing pains are "bilateral," too, in that they typically affect both sides of the body. This doesn't mean that both sides have to hurt every time — the right leg might hurt one night, and a few days later the left one will act up — but kids who only ever get pains on one side probably aren't having growing pains. And growing pains aren't visible. Your kid might be screaming his head off about his shin, but you should never actually see anything wrong with his shin. If you do — if you see redness or swelling or bruising, for instance — you should take your little one to the doctor, pronto.

So, the definition of "growing pains" is based on when and where the pain happens, not on what causes it. And even today, no one is sure what produces growing pains, but there are several theories backed by (limited) research, and together they suggest that growing pains might have a range of physiological causes. One possibility is that kids who get growing pains have abnormally low pain thresholds. In a 2004 study, Philip Hashkes, at the time a pediatric rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tested the pain thresholds of 44 children with growing pains by putting pressure on various parts of their bodies, including points that are particularly sensitive to individuals who have chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia. After conducting similar tests on 46 children who didn't have growing pains, Hashkes found that much less pressure was needed to incite pain in the children who had nightly growing pains.

Growing pains could in part be the result of overactivity, too. This theory meshes with parental observations that growing pains are often worse on nights after sports practices. These aren't your typical post-workout pains, though — kids are much more at risk for true sports overuse injuries, such as shin splints, in part because growing bones don't handle stress very well. In another study, Hashkes measured, using ultrasound, the bone densities and qualities of 39 kids who experienced growing pains and found they were lower than average. The density and quality of bone drops when it has been overused without having a chance to recover, so the findings suggest that some growing pains may be associated with too much running around. But some researchers aren't convinced by the overuse theory, in part because growing pains often start suddenly in the middle of night, and overused muscles should ache more consistently.

Text Only
Web Extra
  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia. But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 28, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 22, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 18, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo