“Growing pains” is a term often used to describe pain in the legs (and sometimes arms) of children. It occurs most commonly in both legs in the evening, at bedtime, or shortly after going to sleep.
The exact cause is not known but the pain is most likely related to muscles that are overused, strained, or tight, and not actually related to growth.
Signs and symptoms of “growing pain” include:
- Aching, throbbing pain or discomfort
- Pain that occurs in both legs (or arms) and not just one side
- Pain is most common in the calf or thigh area.
- Symptoms occur in the evening, at bedtime, or wake the child 1-2 hours after falling asleep.
- The pain is gone by the morning.
- Pain comes and goes and does not occur every day.
The best prevention is to make sure your child is regularly active but takes breaks for rest and hydration during especially vigorous or prolonged activity or exercise.
Participation in multiple styles of play, exercise, and sports can also help assure different muscle groups are being used regularly and no single activity is overusing or straining one area of the body.
Gentle massage to the affected area, warm baths, heating pads, and stretching can soothe pains.
A dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also help ease the pain if needed.
Call or see your pediatrician right away if:
- The pain is severe or intolerable.
- Pain is constant or doesn’t resolve by morning.
- Pains are progressively occurring more frequently and/or becoming more severe.
- The limb has swelling, or you can feel a lump within the muscle, that does not go away with rest.
- Signs of infection such as fever, redness or warm/hot skin over the painful area occur.
- Your child’s urine is dark or unusual in color.
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