growing pains

[groh-ing peynz]

What does growing pains mean?

Originally a reference to the physical pains many children experience when going through a growth spurt, growing pains has come to refer to the hardships experienced at the early stages of some endeavor.


The term is frequently used to describe the struggles found in transitioning from an adolescent to an adult (i.e., adulting), from an amateur to a professional, or the creation or expansion of a business—hence the name of the 1980–90s family sitcom, Growing Pains.

Examples of growing pains


Examples of growing pains
I attribute any pains in my body to growing pains in a hope that one day I'll wake up and be 6ft
@russellvernon98, July, 2018
The cyber insurance industry is really the Wild West right now because they just recently started writing these polices, and they are going through the growing pains of writing language that specifically addresses specific events.
Rhys Dipshan,, July, 2018
If you’re going through the mud, you’re learning something crucial. You are improving. You are becoming someone different. Hallelujah for that. Hallelujah for the thought of becoming better versions of ourselves in the midst of daily growing pains.
@hannahbrencher, July, 2018

Where does growing pains come from?

Put scientifically, growing pains are a musculoskeletal condition that results in quasi-rheumatic pains in the limbs. Translated into normal people language, it’s when you’re arms and legs hurt.

These growing pains were described in 1823 by French physician Marcel Duchamp, who came up with it based on his observation that these pains tended to occur during a period of dramatic growth in a child. While growing pains are in fact usually experienced by young children, Duchamp’s growth-based explanation has been disproven.

No one really knows exactly what causes growing pains, but according to pediatric physician Joshua Burns of the University of Sydney in 2016, recent research suggests that they may be caused by “altered pain threshold, decreased bone strength, excess flexibility known as joint hypermobility, greater body weight, parental history of arthritis or family history of growing pains.” Now you know.

While the cause of growing pains remains a mystery, the term has not only stuck, but grown 😂 – face with tears of joy emoji to also take on a metaphorical sense that refers to struggles found in a period of growth in any part of life.

The term has often appeared in popular culture, such as in the late 1980s–90s ABC sitcom Growing Pains, which centered around the trials and travails of the Seaver family and their life on Long Island, New York. The show ran for an impressive seven seasons and helped launch the career of Leonardo DiCaprio.

More recently, the term was used by Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara in her 2018 single entitled, yep, you guessed it, “Growing Pains.” In an interview with Rolling Stone‘s Brittany Spanos that year, Cara said the song was inspired by the “huge growing pain” she’s experienced in finding herself amid her newfound success in the music industry.

Who uses growing pains?

Outside of some parents explaining to their children that their aches are growing pains, metaphorical use of growing pains—for the struggles or challenges of someone of something coming of age—can be found in a wide variety of areas online, print, and good, old-fashioned day-to-day speech.

Tumultuous time with my tweenager. #raisingboys #growingpains #parentingishardwork

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