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The Children’s Hospital Q & A: Growing Pains

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Every month, Mile High Mamas features a Q & A from The Children’s Hospital on a different health topic. This month’s topic is all about your child’s growing pains. Find out why that tiny voice in the middle of the night keeps whispering, “Mommy, my legs hurt.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as 40% of children in the U.S. ages three to five and eight to 12 have growing pains; that’s because most kids experience significant growth within these ages ranges.

How can I tell if my child is experiencing growing pains?

The following symptoms are the most common indicators of growing pains:

* Pain is concentrated in the leg muscles, particularly the front of the thighs, calves or behind the knees.
* The pain is felt in both legs.

What causes growing pains?

“We don’t know what causes growing pains, but they do seem to occur more often after children experience a physically active day,” said J. Roger Hollister, MD, Rheumatologist and Professor of Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital. “Heredity also may play a role if one or both parents experienced growing pains when they were young.”

What can I do to soothe my child’s pain?

Try these tips to help alleviate your growing child’s aches:

* Stretch before bedtime. Experts believe the sensation of growing pains may be caused, in part, by excessive activity throughout the day. Stretching the muscles before going to sleep can help.
* Massage the tender area. Gently rub your child’s muscles in the evening or when he or she complains of soreness.
* Apply heat. Taking a warm bath or applying heat pads can help ease the pain.
* Take pain medicine. Give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen before bedtime or when pain wakes him up at night.

Could it be more serious than just growing pains?

Other signs and symptoms that may suggest a more serious medical condition include:

* Discomfort in only one leg or area
* Joint swelling, redness, rash, tenderness, or areas that are warm to the touch
* Fever
* Limping
* Stiffness in the morning
* Weakness

“Growing pains may wake a child from sleep at night, but the pain generally disappears or is significantly reduced in the morning,” said Mark Erickson, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Children’s. “If pain continues into the morning and throughout the day, your child could have a more serious health concern, such as pediatric arthritis. Talk to your pediatrician if your child is experiencing additional signs and symptoms.”

Learn more about The Children’s Hospital.

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