What are growing pains?

Talking about “growing pains” can be confusing, as growing up doesn’t hurt and we are not aware of this being the cause. But the truth is that 1 in 5 children has this type of discomfort; night pain that in most cases is benign and has no impact on your health.

“Growing pains” are localized discomfort in the lower extremities that some children experience during childhood, between the ages of 2 and 12. Normally, they occur at night and do not usually have any organic cause, nor are they related to any disease. The complaints are usually intermittent during childhood, with two age ranges: between 3 and 7 years, and during adolescence.
Growing pains are very common, affecting up to 40% of the child population at some point.

Why does growing pain occur?

The cause of these complaints is unknown; Doctors do not have evidence to show that bone growth causes pain.
Perhaps the most realistic cause is that these discomforts are secondary to the physical activity that children perform during the day, possibly secondary to minimal muscle injuries that go unnoticed while the child is active and are manifested at night when the child has the Relaxed muscles and movement of the legs during sleep causes pain.

Symptoms of growing pains

The pain typically appears when the child sleeps during the night or a nap, appearing before bedtime or waking the child during sleep.

  • It is typical for the child to complain of some pain in both legs. It would be a diffuse pain, difficult to locate. The most affected areas are the calves, the front area of the thighs or the shins.
  • Sometimes it can also affect the arms, but it is much less common
  • The pain is usually muscular, without affecting the joints.
  • Pain (of varying intensity)

These episodes can recur on and off for months. But the evolution is excellent in all cases, since these pains disappear over the years, at the end of the growth. The child does not present any sequelae or alteration in its growth and development.

What can I do if my child has growing pains?

The pain usually improves with a massage or the application of dry heat. On some occasions we can give an analgesic, such as paracetamol.
If your child is physically active, stretching after exercise can prevent growing pains.

How is it diagnosed?

Growing pains are what pediatricians call a diagnosis by exclusion. This means that illnesses or injuries must be ruled out before diagnosing complaints as growing pains. For this, it is necessary to carry out a correct medical history and physical examination, where there is no evidence of diseases or injuries that justify the pain.
If the characteristics of the pain are compatible with growing pains, a normal and pain-free physical examination during the day, no additional test is necessary.

When to see the pediatrician

It is necessary to go to the pediatrician if the child presents:

  • Intense pain that is not intermittent, daily and persists throughout the day.
  • Redness or swelling of any joint.
  • Limp.
  • One-sided pain.
  • Fever .
  • Rashes.
  • Bad general state.
  • Loss of appetite and / or weight.
  • Tiredness or weakness

What you should know:

  • They are very frequent pains that affect 40% of children at some point between 2 and 12 years of age.
  • There is no evidence that bone growth causes pain, which could be related to the physical activity they do.
  • The normal thing is that they disappear over the years, at the end of the growth.

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