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Growing Pains

Growing pains are leg pains that may wake your child at night. But the pain is not caused by the child's growth. Nor is it caused by a medical problem. Doctors don't know why children have this pain. Growing pains hurt, but they are not serious. They will not cause any long-lasting problems.

Growing pains may start when your child is a toddler. After they start, your child may have them off and on for 1 or 2 years. They can also start later in your child's life. Sometimes teens can have growing pains. Your child won't be in pain all the time. He or she may go days, weeks, or months with no growing pains. The painful area won't feel warm, and there won't be any swelling or redness or other color changes. Not all children have growing pains.

Your child's pain is in the muscles, not in joints. The pain is usually in the thighs or calves and in both legs and usually happens later in the day or at night. The pain goes away by the morning. There may be more pain if your child was more active during the day.

When your child has growing pains, you can try gently massaging the area. You can use heat. To apply heat, put a warm water bottle, a heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth on the area. Do not let your child go to sleep with a heating pad on the skin. You can also give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give a child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedMay 9, 2013

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