Written by: Steven Petter
Forget everything you think you might know, the name Growing Pains is somewhat misleading since there is no scientific evidence to link the pains some children experience with growth spurts.Early puberty in boys especially can cause these” growing pains” to happen. They are more commonly referred to by doctors these days as Recurrent Nocturnal Limb Pain, as they occur most often at night in the legs of children between the ages of four and twelve.
What to do if they are have growing pains?
These pains are more often attributed to children who are particularly active during the day a more often than not happen after a child has had an increasingly active day and despite popular belief have no connection to growth of the bones, since the pain is most often experienced in the muscles of the legs. It is highly unlikely that these pains, which are often in the ankles, calfs and shins, will prevent you child from walking or cause them to limp, if your child is experiencing difficulty in movement of the legs then you should take them to a doctor as soon as possible as these are not growing pains, you should also seek medical advice if your child is experiencing swelling in the legs, a fever, loss of appetite or pain in only one leg as these symptoms are not normally attributed to growing pains and could be a sign of another medical condition. Should your child be experiencing growing pains then you can give them Paracetamol or Ibuprofen to reduce the painful sensations and this should suppress the pains adequately to allow the child to sleep.
Massage can help
Other ways to support your children if they do suffer with growing pains is to massage the muscles of the legs gently using the flat of the palm and the fingers, or to stretch the effected area by very carefully manipulating the foot and the leg, however this should be done with extreme caution and only if you are confident in what you are doing.
You could supplement medicines by using gentle heat to warm the affected area whilst waiting for pain killers to take affect such as a hot water bottle or a warm towel, be sure to check the temperature of anything you place onto you childâ€™s skin before applying. Never give a child under the age of twelve Aspirin and ensure you read the instruction on all medicines and health aids, in any case if you are unsure you should seek medical advice from your GP or Pharmacist so that they can rule out any other potential problems before diagnosing growing pains.
It can be scary if your child suddenly wakes in the night complaining of pains in the legs, but if you keep a clear head and remember that in all likelihood the pain they are experiencing is natural and if your child suffers from growing pains on a regular basis and you know they will be having a particular physical day then keep some Paracetamol handy and be mindful that they may wake up some time in the night and need you to help them.