Sometimes your kids will complain of pain and throbbing in their legs for what seems to be no reason…why does this happen? Growing pains is real, and can most commonly effects preschool-aged children and pre-teens and may last for up to a year or two. It largely effects the muscles and most commonly presents with pain in the thighs, calves or behind their knees.
Why do children get growing pains?
The cause is largely unknown, but there are suggestions that the pain may come on with muscular tiredness (eg after an active day spent running, climbing, and jumping, or in a child with poor posture) or less commonly when your child is feeling upset. It is important to know that even though growing pains can hurt a lot, they do not cause any damage to your child’s muscles or bones.
How is Growing pains diagnosed?
Growing pains is a diagnosis that is given when all other causes have been ruled out. As already mentioned children will often feel an achy or throbbing feeling in the calves, the front of the thighs, or behind the knees. It is in both legs and usually starts either in the early afternoon or evening. The pain is gone by the morning, but it may be so uncomfortable that it wakes the child during the night. The child may also get headaches and tummy pain at the same time. The good news is that growing pains don’t usually hurt every day and long term is a benign condition.
What Symptoms Should I be looking out for?
It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare professional to make sure that it is growing pains that your child is suffering from, but it is most important for your child to see a doctor with the following, as these symptoms are not associated with growing pains:
- The pain is in the joints
- Only one leg hurts
- The pain is associated with an injury
- Their legs are still sore in the morning
- Fever involved
- Rashes on the skin
- Changes in behaviour
- Child is experiencing weakness
How can you help your child?
There is no specific treatment for growing pains, but children often feel more comfortable with a warm heat pack. Never use one while the child is sleeping and make sure not to burn them. Stretching exercises can help the muscles relax, especially if they feel like they are cramping. You can always ask your healthcare professional for some suitable stretches. There are child-appropriate pain relief options that are available, but make sure that you ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice, since aspirin must never be given to a child and children’s doses are different to adult’s doses. Massaging the sore areas can also help and make your child feel comforted. If you have some massage oil with essentials such as lavender, they can make your child feel special and help send them off to sleep.
If you feel concerned about your child’s leg pain, it is best to get it seen by a healthcare professional.
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