Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Between the ages of three and five years-old, many children begin have pains in their limbs, mainly in their legs, at night for no apparent reason. These pains, known as ‘growing pains’, affect about one in ten children, and both boys and girls experience them equally. Growing pains are not caused by bone growth, as many people think and the pain may come and go for many years, but will normally end during the teen years.
Though the exact cause of growth pains is unknown, but it may be linked to several things, including tiredness in the muscles, poor posture, or stress, though each of these suspected causes are not present in every child that suffers from growing pains.
Symptoms of growing pains include:
Aching in both legs, normally in the calf, behind the knee and the front of the thigh (pain may occur occasionally in the muscles of a child’s arm, as well)
Moving the legs does not make the pain any better or worse (this shows that the pain is not in the joints)
Inconsistent pain – it may occur every night for a week, or just occasionally
Pain begins around late afternoon or evening
Pain worsens during the night, especially at bedtime
Pain wakes the child from sleep
Massaging makes the pain feel better (a child with a medical condition do not want the area that is hurting to be touched because moving it tends to increase the pain)
No pain when the child wakes in the morning
Growing pains do not cause children to limp or make it hard for them to run or play normally. If your child is limping, complaining of pain during the day, feels ill, or if the leg is sore, then you should call or visit your pediatrician, as your child may be injured or have an infection.
Some things that can help to decrease the pain include:
Massaging the area
Reassuring the child that the pain will be gone by morning
Stretching the muscles in the legs or arms
Placing a heating pad, or warm, wet towel on the area
Giving your child a warm bath
Giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Don’t tell your child that the pain is caused by playing or growing, as the child may become afraid of both.
Call your child’s doctor if he or she experiences any of the following:
Pain that last through the morning
Swelling or redness in one particular area or in a joint
Pain associated with an injury
Limping or limited movement of the limb
Tiredness or weakness
Loss of appetite
Strange, uncharacteristic behavior
Growing pains are normal for some children to experience and they do not normally point to serious illness, but they can be highly upsetting to a child or a parent, and because the pain is gone by morning, some parents feel that the child was pretending to be in pain. Reassuring and comforting your child when he or she experiences growing pains will help him or her relax.
Check with your child’s doctor to make sure that the pain that your child is experiencing are growing pains and not a more serious health problem.