Throbbing, soreness, and tenderness in the legs are common for many children under the age of ten. These pains are often associated with ‘growing pains’, a condition that is not formally recognized by the medical community, but very real to children and their parents. Growing pains are completely normal and at least twenty five to forty percent of children will experience them before the age of twelve.
What causes growing pains to occur?
Since growing pains are not officially recognized as a condition, many people speculate about what really causes them. The growth of bones does not cause pain, but many people believe that it can cause pain in some children. Typically the pain is caused from normal activity for children like running, jumping, climbing, etc. Usually growing pains are nothing more than muscle stiffness. Monitor your child’s behavior and take note of the days when they are particularly active, usually they will have growing pains during the evening or night after a hard day.
What do growing pains feel like?
Growing pains are commonly experienced in the legs, but some children have abdominal pains in addition to the leg pain. The pain is a throbbing and stiff pain in the legs. It can become quite intense and it actually wakes some children up during the night. The pain is usually in the calf muscles, not the joints, which is solid evidence that the bones cannot cause pain when they are growing. In addition to calf muscles, children can experience pain in their thighs, and behind their knees. If their legs are red and swollen, this is a symptom of a serious problem and you should seek medical attention.
How can I treat growing pains?
If your child is waking up with growing pains, there are a few things you can do to soothe the pain. First, try rubbing their legs where they are complaining of pain. Use some massage lotion or try some Icy Hot lotion on the muscles to try and soothe the pain. (Be sure to check the label for age dosage.) If the massages do not work, try adding some heat. A heating pad is a great way to treat muscle pain and it should help to soothe the pain. Second, another thing you can do is to simply hold your child. Rock them back to sleep and sing them a song like you used to when they were little. Sometimes children just want to be held and the pain almost immediately goes away with a little tender loving care. Third, give your child a light pain reliever. Most children will only experience growing pains for a few minutes, but some can experience them longer than an hour. A pain reliever is the best way to make them feel better quickly. Fourth, encourage your children to get regular exercise and stretching each day. This is a simple way to make sure your children are getting enough exercise to keep their muscles growing healthy and strong.
Should I call the doctor?
Some parents jump right to the conclusion to call their child’s doctor. If the pain is persistent, you should contact their doctor to find out if they have a serious condition. Redness, swelling, fevers, rashes, limping, weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite, and uncharacteristic behavior all point to a different type of problem from moderate growing pains.
Growing pains are not serious and they usually go away within a few minutes and they don’t last longer than a day or two, but there are some children that can experience them for weeks. Never accuse your child of faking the pain, to them it is very real, even if it is nothing more than a simple muscle ache.
As with any advice article, it is not meant to replace the consultation of a competent medical professional.