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Growing Pains

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2016


Has your child woken up in the middle of the night complaining of pain in their legs?? It could be growing pains.

Pediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman says growing pains are very real and very common with about one in five kids experiencing them. The pains usually occur in two age groups 3 to 5 year olds and 8 to 12 year olds. Dr. Nieman says growing pains are uncommon in teenagers. The pain usually occurs in the legs specifically the thighs, calves or behind the knee. And the pain is felt in muscles not joints. The pain usually occurs later in the day or at night and can be severe enough to wake a sleeping child. But the pain should be gone by morning.

So just what is this pain? Dr. Nieman says doctors don’t really understand the cause of the pain but they do know there are a few correlations. He says the pain is more common in children who are very active, who may not drink enough water and who may be picky eaters. Dr. Nieman suggest perhaps those picky eaters are not getting enough Vitamin D, calcium or hydration.

However, leg pain can be caused by other more serious diseases. Dr. Nieman says if the pain occurs every night instead of sporadically or if the child doesn’t respond to a parent comforting them with hugs, massage or a heating pad, then the pain needs to be investigated further by a doctor. Also if parents notice swelling of the joints or that the child is pale or more fatigued or if they’re limping or have an uneven gait then the child needs to be assessed by a doctor. At that appointment, doctors will be ruling out conditions like arthritis, bone tumours or even leukemia. But remember it’s likely growing pains because that type of pain is much more common that anything else.

If the pain is in fact growing pains Dr. Nieman recommends parents should comfort the child with hugs and massage, give them some water to drink and offer a painkiller like ibuprofen that will reduce any inflammation. Dr. Nieman says the pain should occur sporadically and not every night. And the good news is children will grow out of the pain.

For more information visit this website.


Asthma Study

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016


Breathing is something we do all the time without thinking about it. But according to Respiratory Physiotherapist Jessica DeMars, many of us are not breathing correctly. And for those with asthma that can make their symptoms worse. In fact, DeMars noticed that in her adult patients with asthma, if she taught them how to breathe properly it helped with their asthma. So now, she’s doing a study to find out if proper breathing will help children with asthma too.

Izzy Stevenson is 13 years old and has had asthma since she was a baby. She takes controller asthma medications every morning and night and also has an emergency inhaler. Izzy says she sometimes has asthma attacks when she is exercising… which is often because she’s a dancer and dances up to two hours every day. Izzy is participating in DeMars’ study. First, the study requires a rigorous patient assessment. DeMars says each participant fills out a questionnaire about their life with asthma, each has their respiratory chemistry measured and the strength of their breathing muscles assessed. Based on this assessment, DeMars gives the patient an individualized set of exercises to learn and do for six weeks.

Izzy says the exercises are pretty easy to learn and that they’ve already helped her. She says she forgot her inhaler at dance once and that the breathing exercises helped to calm her down. The hope is these exercises will improve patients’ symptoms over the long term. DeMars says the idea is not to replace medications. Medications are necessary to control asthma. However, DeMars hopes the exercises may be another tool in the fight against asthma.

DeMars hopes to have her study finished by this time next year. However, she is still looking for children to participate in the study. For more information on Jessica DeMars visit her website or call the Running Injury Clinic at 403 460 5642 if you would like more information on the study.

Juvenile Arthritis

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Mar 15th, 2016


When Jarad Hauck was 11 years old he was angry all the time. He had stiff, painful fingers that prevented him from doing the things he loved like playing basketball or building with Lego. But Jarad was soon diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Jarad is now 17 and is back to doing what he loves… he was captain of his volleyball team this year, longboards regularly with his friends and goes skiing every weekend. He’s well because he’s managing his arthritis appropriately with several medications a day and an injection once a week.

Jarad is not alone. In fact, 24 thousand Canadian children and teens are living with the disease. For Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, it’s important we understand that arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic disability in children. It can mean they can’t carry a backpack or play the sports they love. This is because they are often in a lot of pain with swollen and stiff joints. But like Jarad, if they manage their disease well, they can often get back to normal. But their normal is not like ours. Juvenile arthritis is a chronic disease which means it will never go away. And these kids grow up and their disease changes which means staying well is a never ending challenge.

Pediatric Rheumatologist Dr. Nicole Johnson says one of the biggest challenges is transitioning these children with arthritis into the adult system. Jarad has been working on his transition with his doctor and family for years. Jarad is now learning about his medications and what they’re supposed to do and not do. Jarad has even gotten over his fear of needles to give himself his weekly injection. Dr. Johnson explains it’s a difficult time for these teenagers because they have a lot of distractions at this time in their lives. Jarad is graduating this year, he’ll be upgrading and working full time, he has a girlfriend and plays lots of sports. But Jarad maintains an active lifestyle and this is something he doesn’t want to lose. So he knows learning how to manage his disease is paramount if he wants to continue to life an active and full life.

For more information about juvenile arthritis and how you can help visit this website. 


Kidney Day

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Mar 10th, 2016


It is World Kidney Day and this year’s focus is on children. In children kidney disease is often hereditary or a defect from birth where the kidneys don’t form properly. In adults, kidney disease is much different because it is often associated with poor lifestyle choices or illness like auto immune disease.

But for both adults and children kidney disease does not produce symptoms until the kidneys are well into decline sometimes functioning as low as twenty percent. For the Kmiec family, their son Maximillion was diagnosed with a type of kidney disease called Alport Syndrome when he was just three years old. His mom Evangeline says, it was “devastating.”  They  were told not only did Maximillion have the disease, but that mom Evangeline was a carrier. And by this time, they had had a daughter who was tested and also has the disease. The family has just had a third child. Little Enoch is seven months old and he too is being tested, he has about a fifty-fifty chance of getting the disease. The family will learn the results of the genetic testing in May.

Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Julian Midgley says kidney disease is very difficult for families. He says children with the disease will face a decline in kidney function with many kids looking at dialysis or kidney transplant by the age of 10 or 15. Dr. Midgley says the sooner these children are diagnosed the better because there are medications that can prevent or at least slow down the progression of the disease.

Kmiec hopes for World Kidney Day people will learn more about kidney disease, that if affects one if 10 Canadians, that each day 15 Canadians are told their kidneys have failed. Kmiec wants people to understand kidney disease can also affect children and hopes that people will consider donating to the Kidney Foundation so there’s more money for research that might one day lead to better treatments and maybe even a cure.

For more information about kidney disease and how you can help visit this website.  

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