Is your child suffering from a sharp aching in their legs and knees that keeps them up at night? It’s not uncommon if they do. About 25% to 40% of children experience growing pains as toddlers and again as preteens. But how serious are they? When is it time to go see a doctor? If your child has them, here’s a brief guide on how to deal with growing pains.
Growing pains can be described as an aching or throbbing in the legs. The pain tends to range from mild to severe. The source of the pain can vary, stemming from the front of the thighs, the calves or behind the knees. Sometimes while having an episode, children even experience headaches or abdominal pain.
Growing pains usually strike in the late afternoon and evening, sometimes keeping kids up past their bedtime. They also don’t occur every day so it’s unpredictable when kids might experience them.
Cause and Diagnosis
As common as growing pains are, the cause for them still remains unknown. There’s also no evidence to suggest children experience growing pains as a result of growth spurts. Instead, medical professionals speculate growing pains are simply muscle aches that occur after intense physical activity. So the more kids physically exert themselves, the more likely they are to experience growing pains.
Doctors can diagnose your child’s case of growing pains without having to conduct any tests. However, to rule out other factors that may be causing the pain, doctors might order X-rays or blood tests.
There are multiple ways parents can help relieve their children of discomfort. Here’s how to deal with growing pains when they strike:
- Massage the inflicted area.
- Stretch the leg muscles during the day. This is said to prevent pain at night. Your doctor can suggest which specific stretches can help.
- Apply heat to the area in pain. This can be done with a heating pad or a warm cloth.
- Ask your pediatrician about the use of a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Consult your health care provider before deciding to do so. Avoid giving aspirin to children as much as possible. Young consumption of aspirin has been found in some children to a link to the rare, but deadly disease known as Reye’s syndrome.