Growing pains refer to muscular aches in the legs, usually in the front of the thighs or in the calves. They typically affect children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old and 8 and 11 years old. Growing pains can sometimes persist into early adolescence, but they usually go away completely by the time a child is around 13. Growing pains are uncomfortable and painful, but they are essentially harmless.
The biggest symptom of growing pains is a dull ache or throb in the legs. The pain is usually felt in the front of the thighs, behind the knees, and in the calves, and it tends to get worse in the afternoon and evening. Growing pains are often at their worst at night and can sometimes wake a child from sleep, but they are almost always gone by the morning.
Causes of Growing Pains
Many people believe that growing pains are caused by a child’s bones growing longer, but that is a misconception. Bones grow too slowly to cause any significant pain, even during growth spurts, so the real cause of growing pains is unknown.
Muscular tiredness might be a common cause, especially in children who are more physically active, and poor posture may be another culprit. Stress and unhappiness may also trigger pain, but that doesn’t account for all children who experience growing pains. In the end, “growing pains” is really a catch-all term for any unexplained and harmless muscle pain in the legs.
What You Can Do
If your child is experiencing growing pains, the best thing you can do is assure them that the pain will go away soon. If they become too much to handle, heat treatments such as heat packs and warm baths can help ease the pain, as can some over-the-counter pain relievers.
If you do resort to a pain relief medication, read the label carefully and make sure that your child is getting the correct dosage. Finally, avoid telling a child that their pain is associated with physical activity since that might make them afraid to play and be active.
The most important thing to remember about growing pains is that they will pass. Unless your child’s pain is associated with a recent injury or they show other symptoms such as a fever or a rash, there is often no need to seek medical attention. Growing pains may not be caused by actual growth, but they are a part of many young people’s lives.
You should feel free to make an appointment with us if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s growing pains but know that there is no need to be concerned and that your child is normal and healthy. At WFMC Health, we are available for both in-person and telehealth visits to address any health concerns you may have.