Just as the name suggests, growing pains are pains associated with growing processes in children. They often affect the legs, both of them, and they are commonly seen in children between ages 3 and 12.
General info about growing pains in legs
Growing pains in legs are not a sign or a symptom of any illness and do not require treatment. However, just like any other pain, the pain associated with growing does make a child distracted, frustrated and uncomfortable. Sometimes these pains can be quite intense and cause a lot of stress both for the child and for the parents or caregivers. Growing pains are not characteristic for adults, simply because adults are no longer growing.
Growing pains in legs in children
Growing pains in legs usually start around bedtime, however there are exceptions. The pain may not be present before bedtime but then it may start later on, during the night, waking the child up. These pains, no matter how severe they may occasionally be, are not long-lasting and usually subside by morning. The pain tends to be more intense after physical activity.
As for the causes of growing pains, it is believed that they may have something to do with tired muscles. Muscles can become tired due to strenuous physical activity but they can also result from improper posture, especially while walking or sitting.
For some children, growing pains can be triggered by emotional stress as well.
Difference between growing pains and pain caused by an injury
It is important to recognize the difference between growing pains and pain caused by an injury. Growing pains are characterized by cramping or dull ache in calves, front of the thighs and behind the knees. Other than the pain, there is no other symptom or ailment, such as fever, swelling, redness, weight loss and such. Unlike pain caused by an injury, growing pains can be relieved through massage.
How to relieve growing pains in legs
Growing pains are not a disease or a medical condition, they are a normal part of growing up. Still, the pain can cause a lot of discomfort and it is important to try to relieve it. It can be done by using warming the painful area with a heating pad or a towel soaked in hot water. Heating bottles are also good. Gentle massage of the area is also helpful.
Leg stretches and pain killers
Many experts believe that simple leg stretches and mild exercise can provide relief from growing pains. These exercises can be done at home, but it is better to consult a physical therapist who will recommend the best ones.
If the pain is very intense, the child can be given a pain killer, such as ibuprofen. It is very important to remember that Aspirin is not suitable and should never be given to children or adolescents, because it carries the risk of rare, but dangerous Raye’s syndrome.