what are growing pains

What are growing pains?

Growing pains are a specific diagnosis of leg pain that typically occurs in children early in the evening after going to bed. ‘Leg aches’ is probably the preferred term to use for this now.

If it does not meet the criteria, then it is not a true “growing pain”:

• generally peaks around ages 4 to 5, but can occur up to age 12
• generally occurs near the top of the calf muscles and behind the knee
• it is usually relieved by gentle massage
• it only occurs at night

If the pain is elsewhere and occurs during the day then it does not meet the criteria to be diagnosed as what is generally accepted as a “growing pain”.

Growing pains are generally benign and self limiting. The child will grow out of them, but they need reassurance and gentle massages to help them get back to sleep. Only a few need a more aggressive treatment.

Growing pains do need to be taken seriously as there are a number of serious conditions that can present with similar symptoms, so they all need to be investigated.

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