How to Fix Shin Pain in Children

Firstly - Is Shin Pain in Children Normal?

Normal is not a term we use as every person is different.

What we can say is that children should not have persistent pain that prevents them from being active and enjoying their childhood.

In this article I will discuss:

  • the difference between growing pains and shin pain requiring attention.,
  • the main causes of shin pain in children,
  • what you can do at home to help them get over shin pain,
  • when to see a podiatrist to relieve the pain.

Growing Pains aren't caused by fast growth!

Growing pains were originally termed in the 1930s when doctors thought that they were caused by a child’s bones growing faster than the muscles and tendons.

Although we now know this is not actually the case, we still don’t have a thorough understanding of what causes growing pains in many cases.

Luckily, we do know what usually works – most children will be totally or at least partially relieved of growing pains following treatment from a podiatrist.

 

Unfortunately, shin pain is often dismissed as being growing pains, that will get better with rest.

But unfortunately we’ve seen a lot of children present to our clinic after a few years of shin pain which has ruined their love for sports and activity.

So here is an easy reference guide to let you know when it’s likely to be growing pains and when it is likely to be another cause.

When it is and When it isn't Growing Pains

Growing Pains

  • only tend to occur in the evening and should never wake your child in pain or be there in the morning,
  • usually both legs the same amount,
  • is in the long bones and never in the joints,
  • can usully be quite easily relieved with heat and massage.

Other Causes

  • Occur at any time of day and may wake your child at night,
  •  can often just be one leg,
  •  can occur anywhere including the joints,
  •  heat and massage can sometimes inflame the pain.

Important! If your child is frequently waking in the middle of the night due to pain in the legs, you need to see a podiatrist or your family GP to rule out other conditions.

Main Causes of Shin Pain in Children

Over the past 16 years we have seen hundreds of children present complaining of shin pain.

The two most common factors that we have noticed in these children are the following:

  • a high level of activity in organised sports,
  • and/or hypermobile joints especially in the lower limbs and feet.
With sports and activity being a major contributor the easy solution might be to decrease the amount of activity they participate in.

Whilst managing activity levels may be part of our plan – our goal is to keep children as active and healthy as we can, so we use whatever other tools we have to try to facilitate them to continue to be active.

What You Can do at Home to Help.

If your child’s shin pain is mainly at night and is not in the joints there are some things you can do to help.

Here are some of the things you can do at home as a first try:

Worn out shoes with the big toes poking out of the shoes on a child
  • massage the muscles along the legs including the calf muscles and the peroneal muscles (on the outside borders of your child’s legs and the Tibialis Anterior muscle at the front of the shin

 

  • heat packs applied to the calf muscles in the evening,
  • make sure that they wear good trainers for most of their activity,
  • check the trainers to make sure that they are not too ownr on one side and replace them if they are,
  • although we don’t recommend it for longer than a day or two – children’s nurofen can be helpful as a very short term measure if the pain is quite severe.

If the Shin Pain Persists - See Your Podiatrist

Podiatrists are the best placed professionals to help resolve your children’s shin pains as they have the tools and the experience to implement the right treatment plan, quickly.

For children who are hypermobile or have ligamentous laxity (used to be called “double jointed”), mechanical correction using custom foot orthotics is a very effective treatment.

We find that most children with shin pain have their pain significantly reduced or totally resolved after several weeks of wearing their orthotics.

Obviously there will be cases where the easy solution does not work, but as experienced practitioners we use our knowledge of children’s feet and diagnostic tools to make sure we head down the correct path as swiftly as possible.

A young woman leaps in the air to kick a soccer ball

 

Other treatments commonly used by our podiatrists include:

  • stretching exercises to relieve then tension of the muscles which place tensile stress on the tibia,
  • strengthening exercises to get the protective muscles working when there is an imbalance of power causing too much stress in one area,
  • footwear advice which can include advice on football boots, netball shoes, cricket boots, trail runners, cross-trainers, runners and more,
  •  adjustments to training schedules to ensure a steady increase towards full loading.
Please note: the above information is general in nature and does not replace the diagnosis and treatment/opinion of a medical/allied health professional.
The Dynamic Podiatry Team

If your child’s enjoyment of activity and sport is being hampered by shin pain, call our friendly staff or book online to get the right treatment plan to get them loving actiity again. Call 3351 8878

The Dynamic Podiatry logo orange and navy with a foot in the "D"