Growing pains tend to affect both legs and occur at night. In many instances, growing pains will wake a child from sleep. The term "growing pains" may be a misnomer because there's no evidence that growth hurts.
Doctors don't know exactly what causes growing pains, but they may be linked to a lowered pain threshold or, in some cases, to psychological issues.
There's no cure for growing pains. You can make your child more comfortable by putting a warm heating pad on the sore muscles and massaging them. For most children, growing pains stop once they reach their teens. While growing pains are harmless, some types of leg pain in children may be caused by underlying conditions that can be treated.
Growing pains are often described as an ache or throb in the legs — often in the front of the thighs, the calves or behind the knees. Usually both legs hurt. Some children may also experience abdominal pain or headache during episodes of growing pains.
Growing pains often strike in the late afternoon or early evening and disappear by morning. Sometimes the pain awakens a child in the middle of the night.
When to see a doctor
There's no evidence that a child's growth is painful. However, running, climbing and jumping can be hard on a child's musculoskeletal system. Muscle pain at night from overuse during the day is the most likely cause of growing pains.
Growing pains are most common from ages 2 to 12 and are slightly more common in girls than in boys. Running, climbing or jumping during the day might increase the risk of leg pain at night.
Preparing for your appointment
Most children who have growing pains will not need to see a doctor. If the pain is persistent or unusual, you may want to bring your concerns to the attention of your family doctor or pediatrician.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Doctors can usually diagnose growing pains without having to order any tests. In some cases, though, your doctor may order blood tests or X-rays to help rule out other problems that may be causing your child's signs and symptoms.
Treatments and drugs
There's no specific treatment for growing pains. However, you can help ease your child's discomfort with self-care measures, such as massaging your child's legs.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can help ease your child's discomfort with these home remedies:
Last Updated: 2010-11-16
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