GROWING PAINS IN CHILDREN

Symptom: Pain in legs or feet occurring only while the child is resting or sleeping

Home care:

Massage or apply heat to painful muscles.

Give aspirin or paracetamol for pain.

Having the child wear sturdier shoes may reduce the frequency or severity of the pains.

Growing pains can be quite severe and it’s important to reassure and comfort the child.

Precaution:

If your child complains of frequent pain that occurs at night in the same part of the body, take the child to a doctor.

The term growing pains is half truth and half myth. Growing children do have normal pains, particularly in their legs and feet. These pains, however, are not caused by growing but by excessive use of young muscles and joints that are not yet completely developed. Young children are extremely active, and this extra activity places stress on their still developing muscles and joints.

Signs and symptoms

Growing pains generally occur in different parts of the thighs, calves, and feet. The pains can be severe enough to awaken a child from sleep.

A key symptom of growing pains is that they occur only when the child is at rest—usually at night or during naps. They never occur when the child is active. This fact distinguishes growing pains from pains caused by diseases or abnormalities, which are typically worse when the child is active. Growing pains do not interfere with or interrupt a child’s daily play or routine, and are never accompanied by fever or other symptoms of general illness.

Home care

Apply heat to painful muscles. Massaging the muscles also helps. Giving the child aspirin or paracetamol may relieve pain. Sometimes sturdier shoes reduce the frequency and severity of growing pains. Since the pain can be quite severe, sympathy and understanding are important in comforting the child.

Precaution

• One rare bone disease, osteoid osteoma, causes severe bone pain that occurs almost exclusively at nighttime. If your child complains of frequent pain in the same spot at night, the cause must be checked by your doctor.

Medical treatment

Your doctor will perform a careful examination to rule out other diseases. X rays may be necessary on more than one occasion to check for osteoid osteoma.

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