If your child has ever complained of not being able to sleep at night due to leg pain, he or she may be experiencing what many people refer to as growing pains -- a common occurrence seen in kids during their growth and development years.
Growing pains are often characterized by a sharp, throbbing pain in the leg muscles, usually occurring during the night and sometimes late afternoon without an apparent cause. The nighttime pain can be so intense that it is enough to wake the child from sleep. While there is no evidence that a child's growth is painful, these pains often occur during an active day of running, jumping or swimming.
Whenever a child is afflicted by episodes of recurrent leg pain, it is always best to have them evaluated by Dr. Alan S. Rothstein, D.P.M.. Other foot and leg conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of growing pains is made. If the examination is normal, with no redness, tenderness, swelling, or limitation of movement, then it is generally safe to say the child is suffering from growing pains.
Consult with a physician or podiatrist if aching legs are a chronic complaint or if the pain is so severe it interferes with the child's daily activities. Persistent pain and other unusual symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. The following symptoms are not due to growing pains and should be evaluated by a doctor:
- Persistent pain
- Swelling or redness in one specific area or joint
- Loss of Appetite
- Abnormal behavior
There are no treatments or medications available for growing pains, but parents can help ease the pain with simple home remedies.
- Massage and rub the child's ache until the pain passes
- Stretch your child's legs throughout the day and before bed
- Heating pads or warm baths can help soothe sore muscles
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (always consult with physician first)
While growing pains are commonly seen in young children during the growth and development years, lower extremity pain can also be caused by mechanical misalignments and structural imperfections. A thorough evaluation is crucial in order to determine the exact cause of your child's leg pain. If growing pains are the cause of your child's discomfort, rest assured that the pain is only temporary and will pass with time.