Growing pains are the most frequent cause of pain in the child’s musculoskeletal system. This condition is characterized by cramping, throbbing, or aching in the limbs. The pain typically occurs at night and usually affects both legs. It is mostly felt in the legs, frequently in the calves, behind the knees, or the front of the thighs. This condition should be over by the time the child reaches adolescence.
Despite the name “growing pains”, there is no evidence that this pain is brought on by growth. A reduced pain threshold or, in certain situations, psychological problems may be related to growing pains.
Pain levels might range from very mild to severe. Growing pains might last several hours for some children while only lasting a few minutes for others. To manage the condition, one may use methods like massages, or using a thermo-pad on the area with pain, gentle stretches, and, if required, mild pain relievers.
Growing pains typically affect both sides of a child’s body, mostly in their legs, such as the shins, calves, thighs, or behind their knees. Growing pains often manifest as an aching, throbbing sensation in the legs.
Growing pains tend to appear intermittently. But in certain children, the pain may manifest daily. Typically, the discomfort starts in the late afternoon or early evening and subsides by dawn. It can also coincide with days when a child is more physically active. Occasionally, a child may wake up in the middle of the night due to this pain. In some cases, these episodes of growing pains may be accompanied by abdominal discomfort or headaches.
Mild growing pains are typically considered a normal part of a child’s development. However, it is advisable to contact a healthcare provider if children is experiencing severe pain, fever, or if you notice a lump in a muscle, limping, redness, or notice dark-colored urine, or if any swelling persists or worsens beyond a 24-hour period.
If a child is dealing with enduring leg pain that extends into the morning, severely interferes with their regular activities, affects the joints, or is connected to an injury, it is advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare provider to ensure a thorough diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Growing pains in children have no known cause. There is no substantiated evidence to suggest that a child’s growth causes physical pain. Typically, “growing pains” do not occur at the actual sites of growth or during periods of rapid growth.
While the exact cause remains uncertain, several factors may play a role in the occurrence of growing pains in children.
Certain theories propose that heightened physical activity can potentially cause muscle overuse, resulting in discomfort. A child’s musculoskeletal system may experience strain due to activities such as running, climbing, and jumping. There is also a connection between this condition and restless legs syndrome.
Others propose that children with growing pains may have a lower pain threshold and are more prone to headaches and abdominal discomfort. Many of these children also exhibit hypermobility and flat feet, which could contribute to their growing pains. Additionally, low vitamin D levels have been linked to reduced bone strength in children with growing pains.
Children in preschool and school age, particularly three to twelve, frequently experience growing pains. Children who are active during the day may be more likely to have leg pain at night. Growing pains tend to affect girls slightly more often than boys.
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