Have you ever heard about growing pains in children? If you have a preschooler or a tween, you probably have heard your child complaining about this. Growing pains occur normally in children, and it can affect around 25 to 40% of children. It is common during early childhood when children are around 3 to 5 years old, and in older children aged 8 to 12 years old.
The cause of growing pains can not be directly linked with a child’s growth. Parents can mistakenly think that because of its name, growing pains are due to such speculations. However, the cause of growing pains is most likely due to a child’s activities during the day. If your child was pretty active during daytime, he may experience muscle aches at night. Jumping, running around and other physical activities can be hard on the musculoskeletal system, and a child may then feel these discomforts at the end of the day.
The pain can be described as aching or throbbing, and it is often felt in the front of the thighs, calves and behind the knees. The pain is concentrated on the muscles, and not on the joints. Growing pains tend to occur on both legs, and the pain often strikes late in the afternoon or early evening. A child may also awaken in the middle of the night complaining about the discomfort. Although it can be disturbing for a child, the pain is not at all persistent, and when your child wakes up the next morning, he may no longer feel the discomfort.
If your child has similar complaints, try to observe how he responds to touch during episodes of growing pains. Generally, kids who suffer from a serious illness have sensitivity or tenderness on the areas affected. These kids cannot tolerate manipulation on the affected areas because touch can aggravate the pain. In contrast, a child with growing pains can be relived when the affected areas are massaged.
Growing pains also tend to occur when a child is motionless, or when he is not putting weight on his legs. For discomforts due to more serious causes, the pain worsens when the affected part is used. Growing pains are also an unlikely cause for limping in children. If you notice that your child limps, consult your health care provider.
Majority of the cases of growing pains are not due to any serious disease. However, your child’s complaints of discomforts are real, and doctors still need to rule out other conditions first, before he can directly link the symptoms with growing pains. Rarely, doctors may need to have some blood tests and an x-ray done before diagnosing growing pains.
If your child suffers from growing pains, gently massage the affected areas. Encourage your child to stretch his legs at the end of the day. You can even include this practice in your child’s daily routine. Applying a heating pad may also help soothe sore muscles. Make sure that it is on a low setting to prevent burns. A warm bath may also help relieve sore muscles. Over the counter analgesics may also be used, but aspirin should never be given to a child below 12 years old. However, it is still best to consult your child’s doctor before you ask him to take any medication.
Growing pains may not have any serious cause, but the pain can be distressing for a child. Provide lots of reassurance, and comfort your child. In time, your child will grow out of these pains, and it will only be a thing of the past.
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