Growing pains are a common childhood ailment. Some people believe these pains are a rite of passage, as they mean the child is growing and getting bigger. But when are growing pains in kids more than just aches and tender legs, and when should parents consult their child’s doctor? Read on to learn more from the pediatricians at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.

What Are Growing Pains?

Growing pains affect between 10% to 35% of kids ages 3-12 at least once, typically when they’re having growth spurts. They typically affect the thighs, calves, and the back of the knees; it’s important to note that true growing pains affect both legs simultaneously, and pain in just one leg is usually indicative of another problem. A child’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments grow as the rest of the child’s body does, so they can be tender and sensitive during the growth process. The bones, however, do not cause pain during growth.
Growing pains are usually more common after a full day of activity, especially after a child plays sports or runs around on the playground. Most children experience their pain late in the afternoon/early in the evening, with many children waking up from sleep due to leg pain.

When Should I Consult My Pediatrician?

Growing pains typically come and go throughout childhood; if your child’s pains are persistent and increasingly more painful, it’s time to consult your pediatrician. If your child has any of the following symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment as the problem could be more serious than standard growing pains.

  • The pain lasts through the night into the morning
  • The pain lasts long after an injury
  • Your child has a fever
  • Your child limps or walks strangely
  • Your child is weak, tired, less active than normal, or seems unlike himself
  • Your child has red, swollen and achy joints (note that joint pain isn’t associated with typical growing pains)
  • Your child develops a rash
  • Your child has a loss of appetite

Easing the Pain

Treating leg pain in children requires some simple at-home care, and lots of love and hugs from caregivers. Your child’s pediatrician may decide that over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen would be beneficial for serious growing pains, but you should never administer aspirin to a child as it has been linked with the life-threatening Reye’s syndrome. Some experts believe that a diet rich in Vitamin-D helps to alleviate leg pain in children, so we recommend discussing your child’s diet and eating habits to determine whether he may benefit from a vitamin supplement.
Try these options for fast relief:

  • Gentle stretches
  • Gentle massage
  • Heating pads or heated water bottles
  • Warm bath before bedtime

Growing pains are a very real, and painful part of life for many young children. These leg pains can disrupt their sleep, make normal physical activity uncomfortable, and possibly frighten them. Home treatment is the best option for most growing pains, but a wellness checkup is a great idea if you believe your child has a Vitamin-D deficiency or is suffering from something more serious. If you have questions about your child’s health needs or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.