Growing Up Hurts: What You Need to Know About Growing Pains

As a mother, it’s fascinating to watch your little ones grow up to become big, strong and beautiful kids. On the outside from a parent’s perspective, this process is exciting and full of anticipation, but unfortunately, can be an extremely painful process for the young tot. If your child has complained about their limbs hurting late at night or in the evening before bed, there's a chance it might be due to growing pains.

Photo Credit: Metro Parent
(Photo: Metro Parent)

Growing pains typically occur to about 25 to 40 percent of kids between the ages of three and five, then later in between eight and ten years old. The symptoms usually concentrate in the muscles, rather than in the joints. In fact, most kids report that it happens most frequently on the front of their thighs, in the calves or behind the knees, and it usually occurs around bedtime. Kids describe the pain as an ache or throb in such areas, and report that it occurs every once in a while, almost at random.

Some doctors claim that the pain is triggered when the bones grow, but there is no official evidence to prove this as a definite cause. Most agree that growing pains are just muscle aches due to intense physical activity that can wear the muscles out instead of letting them grow. This is why the common symptoms seem to occur most frequently after a day that a child has been running around, and possibly overusing their muscles. It is also assumed that growing pains are predisposed to children, so if this happens to run in your family, communicate with your doctor to figure out what the best treatment is.

kid crying in bed

If your child develops intense and worrisome symptoms, it might indicate a serious health problem unrelated to growing paints. Be sure to look out for:

  • Persistent pain
  • Pain in the morning
  • Swelling, tenderness, and redness in a joint
  • Joint pain associated with an injury
  • Limping, weakness, or unusual tiredness

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If you are a parent who has woken up at 2 a.m. because your child has been crying from throbbing pain in their legs, you may feel hopeless and unsure of how to handle the situation. Next time your kid reports symptoms of growing pains, here are a couple of treatments you can offer:

  • Massage the painful area
  • Stretch the muscles out
  • Place a heating pad on the painful area
  • Give a small dose of ibuprofen

During a day of long and exhausting physical activity, have your child take periodic breaks or play a different game; that way, the chance of overusing a particular muscle is lessened. Before they go to bed, draw them a warm bath to help soothe muscles and ease aches and massage their limbs before they go off to sleep.

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