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Growing Pains

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Overview

Growing pains are a common benign condition affecting children between the ages of 3 to 12. They usually affect the legs and occur in the evening or at night. The condition was given its name as it was thought to be linked to growth spurts. This theory has been debunked; however, the name has stuck.    

About The Condition

Growing pains usually manifest as an aching or throbbing sensation occurring in the front of the thighs, the calves or behind the knees. They usually impact both the legs and can be severe enough to wake up the child. Despite its name, there is no proven link between growth spurts and growing pains. Doctors also use the term “recurrent nocturnal limb pain in children” to describe this condition. The exact causes behind growing pains are still not known. 

Risk factors of Growing Pains

Growing pains usually affects children of both genders between the ages or 3-13 years. There are no defined indicators to predict growing pains. Factors that may increase the risk of experiencing growing pains include: 

  1. Family history of growing pains or restless leg syndrome 
  2. Personal/family history of migraines 
  3. Stress  

Symptoms

Growing pains can last for months and in some cases, year. They come and go in phases. Some common symptoms include: 

  1. Intense cramp-like or aching pain in both legs (calves, shins, ankles and thighs) 
  2. Pains usually start and intensify in the evening and night 
Growing pains growing pains in kids What are growing pains baby growing pains symptoms Growing pains symptoms Diagnosis of growing pains growing pains treatment

If your child is experiencing symptoms different from those above such as pain only in one leg or persistent pain, consult your child’s paediatrician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Growing Pains

Diagnosis of growing pains is done based on a physical exam and patient history. In case your child is experiencing any other symptoms such as: 

  1. Pain only in one leg 
  2. Fever  
  3. Pain in the joints 
  4. Presence of a rash, swelling or bruise 
  5. Loss of appetite and/or weight 
  6. Pain resulting in a limp 
  7. Persistent pain 

Your child’s paediatrician would order additional tests such as x-ray and blood tests to rule out other conditions.

Growing Pains Treatment

Growing pains are usually treated by simple home remedies such as: 

  1. Gently massaging your child’s legs 
  2. Applying warm compress to the affected area 
  3. Giving mild painkillers such as paracetamol under medical advisement 
  4. Taking a warm bath before bedtime Wearing supportive shoes during the day 
Growing pains growing pains in kids What are growing pains baby growing pains symptoms Growing pains symptoms Diagnosis of growing pains growing pains treatment

Prevention

As the exact cause behind growing pains is still not known, there are no steps that can eliminate the risk of developing growing pains. 

FAQs

1. Can growing pains result in fever?

Growing pains do not cause fever. In case your child is experiencing fever, consult your paediatrician for the correct diagnosis and treatment.  

2. What helps growing pains?

Simple home remedies such as gently massaging the legs and applying warm compress to the affected areas can help in easing the symptoms and provide relief to the child. 

3. Are growing pains linked to growth spurts?

Despite the name, there is no evident link between growing pains and growth spurts as was originally believed 

4. When should I consult a doctor for growing paints?

You should consult your paediatrician in case your child is experiencing: 

  1. Pain only in one leg 
  2. Pain and stiffness in the morning 
  3. Fever 
  4. Pain in the joints 
  5. Rash, bruise or swelling 
  6. Pain resulting in a limp 

These additional symptoms do not indicate growing pains and should be checked at the earliest.

5. What is restless leg syndrome and how is it different from growing pains?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder often misdiagnosed for growing pains. It is characterised by an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. It can last through adulthood unlike growing pains. Another important difference between growing pains and RLS is that growing pains always affect both legs while RLS can affect either both or any one of the legs.  

 
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