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Chiropractic Care of a Pediatric Patient With Growing Pains


Background: The term growing pain has been used for approximately 150 years. The term was first coined by Duchamp in 1832 in his treatise, “Maladies de la Croissance.” Prevalence studies indicate that growing pains occur in approximately 20% of children and may be as high as 37% with a slight preference in females compared to males. Growing pains may begin in infancy with the greatest discomfort between the ages of 3-5 years and generally thought of as abating as the individual matures. A number of conditions have been implicated (though not fully substantiated) in the pathogenesis of growing pains and include rapid growth, overexertion, rheumatic conditions, infection, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, orthopedic defects, vague ill health, psychological factors, etc.

So what are growing pains? The diagnosis is generally one of exclusion and we know more about what it is not rather than what it is. Growing pains is described as an intermittent and annoying pain or ache that is often localized in the muscles of the legs and thighs. Medical care recommends supportive treatment in the form of heat, massage and Vitamin C despite the acknowledgment that vitamin C deficiency is not involved in the etiology of growing pains.

Among chiropractors, the care of the pediatric patient with growing pains is not uncommon despite the lack of documentation in the peer-reviewed literature. To address this deficit and contribute to the collective knowledge on the care of patients with growing pains, we describe the care of such a patient.

Clinical Features: A 3 year old boy had complaints of leg pain and lower back pain. In addition, the patient experienced feet pain, headaches and recent bedwetting. No prior treatment had been rendered except for his parents massaging his legs.

Intervention and Outcome: Contact-specific, high velocity, low amplitude adjustments were applied to sites of vertebral subluxation. Treatment consisted of 15 visits over a 13 week period. After one visit, the patient did not complain of leg pain for three days. After 7 visits, the mother reported that his son was sleeping through the night without leg pains. By the 15th , the child had remained for the most part symptom-free for almost 3 weeks.

Conclusion: This case report provides supporting evidence of the effectiveness of chiropractic care in children with growing pains. This case study encourages further research into the care of this common malady in children.

Joel Alcantara, DC 1 and Tricia L. Arndt, DC 2

  1. Research Director, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, Media, PA and Private Practice of Chiropractic, San Jose, CA
  2. Private Practice of Chiropractic, Dublin, Ohio

Presented at Pediatric Integrative Medicine Conference 2006 (Pangea 2006). Chicago, IL, October 26-28, 2006.