My child seems to have growing pains, but how can I tell growing pains from something more serious?
Growth doesn’t hurt, at least not physically. These pains invariably come on at night and awaken the child who complains, “My legs hurt.” You can soothe these sore legs by massaging, and your child will grow out of them. I believe many of these pains are muscle strains left over from daylong jumping and twisting. Also, I have observed children whose pains subsided after an arch and heel lift was put into their shoes, taking some of the strain off leg muscles during standing and walking, especially in a child with pronated flat feet. See Flat Feet.
The characteristics of growing pains are:
- Occurs in both legs
- The child does not limp
- Occurs in the evening
- Plays normally during the day
- Does not awaken child at night
- Your child is perfectly well otherwise, and you don’t notice any abnormal changes in his walking, running, or appearance of legs
- Vague in the description of where pains are, and cannot localize site of pain with one finger
Signs that demand medical attention, and should not be attributed to growing pains are:
- Awakens child in the middle of the night, especially if only in one leg
- Change in walking or running styles
- Complains of back pain and hurts when bending over
- Points to a localized area of pain with one finger
- Weight loss