No clear medical definition of ‘growing pains’: Popular term a medical misnomer

We often hear the phrase ‘growing pains’ used by the general public to describe muscle or joint pain in young people and the term is also used by health professionals. However researchers have found there is no consistent medical definition of the condition behind a diagnosis.

A broad review of medical literature by University of Sydney researchers found there is no agreement among researchers and clinicians on what growing pains really are, what they mean, how they are defined, and how they should be diagnosed.

The researchers say growing pains may be a medical misnomer. Surprisingly, more than 93 percent of studies did not refer to growth when defining the condition.

More than 80 percent of studies made no mention of age in their definition.

The findings have prompted the researchers to recommend the term growing pains not be used by clinicians and other researchers as a stand-alone diagnosis, until a clear definition backed by evidence has been established.

The study is published in Pediatrics.

Growing pains are considered to be one of the most common causes of recurring musculoskeletal pain in children and adolescents. Some studies suggest up to a third of children experience the condition at some point in their life.

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