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Growing Pains: What You Need To Know?

Are your kids experiencing leg pain or achy feeling at night? This might be growing pains, a common complaint in kids. These are generally harmless, but can cause discomfort to the child. Also, as it occurs in young children, it is important for parents to comfort the child and take measures to put them at ease. It is essential to know about growing pains and its management to be able to take proper care and seek medical advice if required.

What Do You Mean By Growing Pains?

Growing pains are cramping pains with a feeling of uneasiness in the legs that might keep some kids awake at night.1 This is usually seen in young kids between 3 to 5 years and children between 8 to 12 years. Sometimes, it may be seen in those entering their teens but it eventually fades off.

Growing Pains

Growing pains are actually muscular pains felt in the legs, usually on both sides.1 The pain is generally felt in the thighs, calves and in the back of the legs. Growing pains may not necessarily be linked to growth spurts but is usually seen during the growing years. Children may experience these pains after a day spent in playing, jumping or sports activities. While this is true, growing pains do not cause damage to the child’s health.

What Are The Symptoms Of Growing Pains?

Growing pains can affect every child in a different way. For some there may be slight pain, but for some it can be unbearable. The child may complain of achy and cramping muscular pain, mostly in the thighs, back of knee and the calves. The frequency and intensity of the pain varies from child to child. Some may have pain every evening, while some can have pain only on few days in a week.

Growing pains usually begin to bother in evening, after the whole day’s activities and cause discomfort to the child. In some children the pain can keep them awake at night, while some may wake up in the middle of night complaining of pain in legs. The pain usually disappears in the morning.

What Can Cause Growing Pains?

While the exact cause of growing pains is not clear 2, there are some factors affecting such pain in children. Growing pains in kids may be due to:

  • Tired Muscles – After a long day of playing, jumping or similar physical activities, the muscles are overworked, which can make them feel tired and painful as the day ends.
  • Restless Legs – It can also be related to restless legs syndrome that makes the legs feel restless and painful at night.
  • Posture – Some children may experience pain due to inappropriate postures while performing activities. Awkward movements can cause pain in legs and can be more in children with leg deformities, flat feet etc.
  • Nutrition – Growing years are marked with an increased nutritional requirement. If these requirements are not met with correctly, different complains including pain in legs can occur. Nutritional deficiencies of calcium, vitamin D, iron, other essential nutrients and adequate intake of water should be considered.

How Are Growing Pains Diagnosed?

Growing pains may not always require investigations. A proper examination and history taking may help the physician to understand about growing pains. Examination is essential to note if there is any swelling, redness, bruising in surrounding area or pain in joints. It helps to evaluate movement of joints, feet deformities like flat feet, knock knees or awkward posture.

History taking helps to reveal about injuries, fever, systemic disturbances or infection. If there are associated symptoms or history of injury, the physician may consider ruling out other problems.

How To Manage Growing Pains?

Growing pains in kids can make them feel anxious and parents need to reassure them that it is normal. Kids usually feel better after massaging the calves, thighs and painful area. Applying warm compresses and tying a light bandage for sometime can also help. In case the pain in unbearable, painkillers may be considered and seeking medical advice is better.

  1. Exercises For Growing Pains

    Stretching exercises and keeping the muscles well-conditioned for sports activities can help to prevent injuries and to keep the body supple and strong. Using the right footwear for sports or play activities is equally important.

  2. Alternative Therapies For Growing Pains

    Some alternative treatments that can be helpful include:

    Aromatherapy For Growing Pains– Essential oils can be of great help and can be added to warm bath or massage oil. For example chamomile, lavender, rosewood and their combinations help to relieve pain in legs.

    Homeopathy For Growing Pains – Homeopathy and biochemic system of medicine considers the tendency of the child, possible nutritional deficiencies and imbalances of inorganic salts in the body. Remedies like Calcarea Phos, Mag Phos and many others help to manage cramping pains or growing pains in kids.

    Yoga For Growing Pains – Regular yoga can provide a perfect combination of physical exercises and relaxation with the right type of yogasanas, especially in older children.

What Parents Should Remember Regarding Growing Pain in Children?

Growing pains do harm your child’s bones or muscles. Give support to your children in pain and allow them to grow naturally. It is important check for any injuries or any specific signs around the area of pain.

If you feel child is limping, has swelling, fever, feels usually unwell or refuses to eat or if you feel that something else is causing the leg pains, check with your physician at once.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2019

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