Growing pains, or more appropriately called ‘leg aches’ are a relatively common problem in children. There are lots of causes of pain in the legs of children and a lot of them are not true growing pains, so it is important to get the diagnosis right before proceeding with any management.
If a child does have true growing pains, then the most important part of the management is simply reassurance that they will be OK. The pains can often wake the child from sleep, so they will need some attention to help get them back to sleep. Gently massaging or rubbing the painful area can be helpful as part of that. The pains will subside and they will eventually get back to sleep.
There is not a lot or research evidence to support any particular treatment for true growing pains. There is plenty of advice that has been offered and lots of suggested remedies with not much evidence supporting any one of them.
Most importantly do not dismiss as the symptoms as ‘just growing pains’. Take them seriously and have them investigated for something more serious. If a diagnosis of true growing pains is given, then give reassurance of the self limiting nature of them. Stretching before sleep sometimes helps. The use of massage and hot packs can help. In very painful cases, NSAID’s can be tried at bedtime. Growing pains have been shown to be more common in those who are deficient in vitamin d, so supplements may be tried. Addressing any biomechanical issues the child has may also be needed to prevent overfatigue of the muscles during activity in the day time.