There is a general complaint in the children in the age group of 3 to 5 and those from 8 to 12, of feeling of pain in legs in late afternoon hours, evening time, at night, during first few hours of sleep or occasionally when the child gets up in the morning. Growing pains are felt generally in the front portion of the thighs, in calves and on the back side of knees.
Researchers have still not been able to ascertain the exact cause of these types of pains experienced by children. Also the name given to this problem is misleading, as there in no confirmation that the pain is due to the growing bones. One thing is certain that these pains occur when the child has had an active day. From this, one should never infer that the child is over exerting or needs to slow down in life. About 40% of children who enjoy perfect health experience these pains. Research carried out in the University of South Australia further points out that instance of growing pains is more in overweight children than normal weighing children.
If your child experiences pain in legs quite often, it is better to consult the doctor as it could be something more than growing pains. This is necessary as often it is difficult to make exact diagnose by a lay man. The doctor can get the diagnosis done to ascertain the exact cause. This diagnose is necessary as the pain could be due to some infection or bone or joint problem or arthritis.
Some of the easy ways to diagnose the existence of growing pain by the parents are:
- Pain is for a short duration of 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pain affects both sides of the body.
- It is felt by the kid in the muscles and not in joints.
- Growing pains are not associated with fever or chill or redness or swollen muscles.
In the following cases the parents should not confuse pain in the legs of the kids for growing pains:
If the pain..
Originates from a spot and the child experiences severe pain that he wakes up at night.
Associated with fever then it could be due to bone infection or other problem.
In joints and they are swollen or the child finds it difficult to move the joints.
In one side of hip, or thigh or knee and it is difficult for the child to put weight on that side of the body.
Occurs during early hours of the day and persists for long time.
In these cases an immediate visit to the doctor is called for.
It may not be possible to stop the instances of occurrence of growing pains. However, it is possible to reduce the level of discomfort faced by the child due to this pain. For this purpose:
- Place a heating pad on the part of the leg in which the child feels pain.
- You can also give hot water bottle to the child to enable him to warm the muscles.
- Massage is very helpful in such cases. The child will enjoy massage. You can use some oil for massage and this will help soothe the muscles.
- If needed, give some medicine like ibuprofen only by doctor’s consultation. Never give aspirin to the child as it can lead to Reye’s syndrome.