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What causes growing pains in children?

Lots of things get labelled as “growing pains” but just because there is pain in a developing child does not always mean it's a real growing pain. You can certainly dismiss pain in a growing child as this. A true growing pain only occurs at night and never during the day. The pain is also in the upper calf muscle and behind the knee. If the discomfort happens in the daytime and in another area than the rear of the leg and knee, then it's not really a true growing pain and is probably because of another thing which needs to be looked into. Commonly, it only occurs in younger children and awakens the child from sleep. There is no history of trauma or any kind of damage to the area which the pain happens in.

Growing pains tend to be relatively harmless and self-limiting, in that they do come right after eventually. Nonetheless, they usually are distressing to the child and parents at the time and, even more important, there are some serious and rare disorders which may have signs much like growing pains, so each case has to be taken seriously and looked into to rule out the other possible causes. The consequences of missing these rare causes of similar symptoms is serious.

The standard management of growing pains is just reassurance of the child. They need to be comforted and helped to return to sleep. Gentle massage or rubbing of the leg in most cases be useful. In some instances medication may be used to help the pain and ease the returning to sleep. Stretching before going to bed and when the pain happens might also be helpful. Of most importance is education concerning the nature of growing pains and that it will pass and an evaluation of those potential unusual and serious causes of the discomfort.