What causes growing pains in children?

Many things get called as “growing pains” but just because there's pain in a growing child does not always mean it's a true growing pain. It is possible to dismiss pain in a growing child as this. A genuine growing pain just occurs during the night and not during the day. The pain is also in the upper calf muscle and behind the knee. If the pain occurs in the daytime and in another spot than the back of the leg and knee, then it's not a true growing pain and is most likely due to something else that ought to be looked into. Generally, it only occurs in younger children and awakens the child from sleep. There is no history of trauma or any sort of injury to the area which the pain happens in.

Growing pains usually are relatively benign and self-limiting, in that they do come right after time. However, they usually are unpleasant to the child and parents at the time and, most importantly, there are several serious and rare conditions which may have symptoms much like growing pains, therefore each case does need to be taken seriously and looked into to eliminate the other possible reasons. The repercussions of neglecting these rare causes of similar symptoms can be serious.

The typical management of growing pains is simply reassurance of the child. They should be comforted and helped to return to sleep. Light massage or rubbing of the leg will usually be useful. In some cases medication may be used to help the pain and relieve the getting back to sleep. Stretching out prior to going to bed and if the pain occurs could also be helpful. Of most importance is education about the nature of growing pains and that it will pass and an assessment of those possible unusual and serious causes of the pain.

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