Suspected growing pains needs to be thoroughly checked

Most kids get aches and pains since they are growing and in most cases they are easily named growing pains when they might not be or they might be something quite serious. Just because a growing youngster has symptoms while growing does not necessarily mean that they are really a ‘growing pain’.

The true syndrome of Growing Pains often occurs about the ages of 4 to 5, but may occur up to age of around twelve. It commonly happens behind the knee and is usually reduced by gentle massage. The pains only happen during the night and don't occur through the day. If the discomfort occurs during the day, then it's not really growing pains. The disorder is usually self-limiting and treatment is not necessarily required. It can happens to around 15-30% of kids, so is really common.

Whilst the problem of a textbook growing pains is benign, there are various possibly serious but rare conditions which include infections and bone tumours that can give similar symptoms, so that is why every growing pain should be taken seriously and meticulously investigated. There are occasionally horror stories in the news media of kids whom had aches and pains dismissed as growing pains, only to have one of those rare conditions with very serious outcomes.

If the symptoms are resulting in distress and issues with sleeping then some therapy for this is indicated. A lot of the treatment is directed at not ignoring the symptoms as just ‘growing pains’ and taking it seriously. The child and parents need to understand the self-limiting nature of the symptoms. Typically just massaging the painful area and sending the child back to bed is helpful. A hot pack could also be applied to the location to encourage the child back to bed and sleep. Stretching of the calf muscles before bed can sometimes help. NSAID’s or anti-inflammatory drugs could be tried at bedtime if the symptoms are waking up the child from sleep.


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