Authored by Revere Health

How to Help Your Child Manage Growing Pains

May 18, 2018 | Family Medicine

Parents of growing children often hear complaints of aches, cramps and muscle pains. These complaints are most common in the afternoon or evening, and the pain may even wake your child up at night.

Most kids start to experience growing pains when they reach preschool age and again in their preteen years—around 8 to 12. Here are some signs that your child might be experiencing growing pains, what causes these, and how you can help.

Signs of Growing Pains

Symptoms of growing pains are different for every kid, and they commonly ebb and flow. This pain is centered in muscles, not joints, and usually occur in the following areas:

  • Calves
  • Front of thighs
  • Behind knees

In addition, headaches or abdominal pain are more likely for kids with growing pains. They also may be more sensitive to pain in general.

Beware that growing pains should not cause any abnormal appearance, such as swelling, redness or tenderness. If you notice these symptoms in joints, they’re likely signs of a more serious disease, and you should contact your child’s doctor.

Causes of Growing Pains

The name “growing pains” can be a little confusing, as there’s actually no evidence that growth spurts cause them. In reality, growing pains are usually just the result of muscle aches that stem from a full, long day of intense activity. Many parents notice that growing pains are more common after their child has played a full day of sports, for instance.

How You Can Help

As a parent, there are a few things you can do to help reduce growing pain symptoms for your child:

  • Massage the area
  • Stretch the legs
  • Use heating pads or warm cloths in the painful area—be careful of hot temperatures here, however, and do not do this during sleep due to burn risks
  • Supply painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen—do not give aspirin to your child, as it has been linked to Reye syndrome, a rare but serious illness in children

Growing pain symptoms may reach a level where you should call your doctor. In some of these cases, pain symptoms may not even necessarily be due to growing pains specifically, but they should still be examined by a doctor. These situations include:

  • Morning pain or long-lasting pain that won’t go away
  • Swelling or redness near a joint or specific area
  • Pain resulting from an injury, such as a fall
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Strange behavior
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Limping or trouble walking

Your doctor can offer further recommendations when it comes to managing your child’s growing pains.

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“Growing Pains.” WebMD.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.