As a parent, you are always worried about your child’s well-being. You try and do everything to ensure your child is in the best of health.
One thing that can make you feel helpless is to see your child in pain, and not be able to do much about it.
Being diagnosed with growing pains is an absolutely normal childhood occurrence. This is not a disease and is a common symptom among children in two phases of childhood – between 3 to 5 years and 8 to 12 years. These pains go away in late childhood.
What Are Growing Pains?
If your child wakes up in the night complaining of pain in the legs, especially after a physically exhausting day, then he/she might be having growing pains.
- The pain normally occurs in late afternoon or evenings.
- It might extend to nights, disturbing your child’s sleep, and goes away in the mornings.
- This symptom is more common among girls than in boys.
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Causes And Symptoms Of Growing Pains In Children:
The intensity of pain varies from mild to acute. Your child may complain of pain generally in both the legs in the areas mentioned below:
- Front of thighs
- Behind the knees
The legs appear normal and there is no swelling or redness in the area that pains.
Despite the name, growing pains are not associated with the growth process or the growth of bones. Hence it is also termed as ‘recurrent limb pain in childhood’.
- This is a muscular pain and not a pain in the bones.
- The pains occur after your child has had a tiring day by running, jumping and climbing.
- Sometimes, faulty postures during sleep or physical activities also lead to this pain.
[ Read: Physical Development In Childhood ]
Diagnosis And Treatment For Growing Pains In Children:
A doctor diagnoses growing pain through the symptoms described by your child and you. Unlike most of the pains, these muscular pains give a soothing effect when it is touched and massaged gently.
- In case of severe pain, the diagnosis should best be left to doctors.
- All other problems like restless leg syndrome should be ruled out before concluding that the symptoms relate to growing pains only.
- If your child is having pain at the joints, if only one leg aches, if there are other symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, reluctance to walk, or a limp with no injury, it means that your child is suffering from some other illness.
- As growing pains are not associated with any disease and are limited to few hours of few days in childhood, they do not need any medication.
- These pains are common among 49% of kids and heal on their own.
However, if the pain is acute, your child may be given paracetamol (acetaminophen) by the doctor. Pain killers such as aspirin should not be administered to children. Any medicine has to be given only after proper medical advice by a pediatrician.
Apart from the doctor prescribed medicines, the methods mentioned below can give a soothing effect to your child:
- Gentle massage
- Stretching muscles in the area of pain gently
- Placing a warm cloth
- Hot baths
- Hot water bottles (take care not to hurt or burn your child’s legs)
- Stretching exercises not just when the pain occurs, but on periodic basis (preferably daily) in childhood will strengthen the muscles of your child.
- Use of convenient footwear would also help to some extent.
[ Read: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ]
As this pain is intermittent during the day and completely vanishes in the mornings, you may not believe that your child is actually suffering. Growing pains might also be associated with headaches, abdominal pain and mood changes and your child needs enough support to deal with it.
If your child is upset with recurrent pains, assure him that these pains only indicate good health and will not last long.
Do share your experiences with other parents in the comment section below:
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