Health and Fitness

What causes growing pains in children?

Many symptoms get labelled as “growing pains” but just because there's pain in a growing child does not necessarily mean that it is a true growing pain. You can certainly dismiss pain in a growing child as growing pains. A genuine growing pain only occurs at night and never in the daytime. The pain is also in the upper calf muscle and behind the knee. If the pain happens during the day and in another location than the back of the leg and knee, then it is not really a true growing pain and it is probably because of another thing that needs to be looked into. Typically, it only occurs in younger kids and wakes the child from sleep. There is no history of trauma or any sort of damage to the location which the pain happens in.

Growing pains are fairly harmless and self-limiting, in that they do come right after time. Nevertheless, they are often upsetting to the child and parents at the time and, most importantly, there are several very serious and rare conditions which can have symptoms similar to growing pains, so each case does need to be taken seriously and investigated to eliminate these other possible causes. The consequences of missing these uncommon causes of similar symptoms can be serious.

The normal treatment for growing pains is just reassurance of the child. They need to be comforted and helped to return to sleep. Light massage or rubbing of the leg will usually help. In some instances medication can be used to help the pain and relieve the getting back to sleep. Stretches prior to going to bed and when the pain happens might also be useful. Of most importance is education regarding the nature of growing pains and that it will pass as well as an assessment of those potential rare and serious causes of the discomfort.