The term ‘growing pains’ may be a misnomer, but the aching limbs children sometimes feel are very real. Learn about the symptoms of growing pain in children, what causes it and how to help them feel better.
Growing pains is the term commonly used to describe the achy legs children can sometimes feel, often at night. It’s usually nothing to be worried about, but you’ll naturally want to understand what your child is experiencing, why it’s happening and how you can help ease their pain.1
The 3 biggest problems with growing pains:
1. They hurt: Your child is experiencing real discomfort.
2. They disrupt sleep: Your little one may be grumpy and tired during the day.
3. They're vague: Reported aches vary and the causes aren’t well understood7.
What are the symptoms of growing pain in children?
If your child is experiencing growing pains, they will most likely complain of achy legs, and usually at night. The pain, however, can also affect their arms and even cause tummy aches and headaches.3 Although the symptoms most often occur during the night, they can disrupt your child’s sleep, causing tiredness the next day.
How can I tell if it’s growing pains or something else?
Growing pains, while uncomfortable, aren’t dangerous. But other conditions that can cause pain in children might be, so pay attention to what they’re telling you. Always err on the side of caution and consult a doctor.
Pain symptoms that may indicate growing pains:
Indications it might may be something different:
What causes growing pain in children?
Some think growing pains might be related to restless legs syndrome, a disorder characterised by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an urge to move them. The leading say perhaps it’s down to too much physical activity during the preceding day. The short answer is that no one really knows.8
Contrary to popular opinion, what we call growing pains typically don’t happen during periods when your child is growing the most. Even during growth spurts, bones don’t grow quickly and the process shouldn’t cause any pain.8
Because there’s no specific cause of growing pains, there’s no set cure or treatment either10. The good news, however, is that there are several ways you can help make a child with minor muscle aches more comfortable and ease their pain. These range from simple home remedies to over-the-counter pain-relief medications, such as Children’s Panadol.
How can I ease my child’s growing pains?
While you can’t stop the growing pains from happening, there are a few things you can do to stop muscle aches hurting so much12:
Don’t give them more than one medicine containing paracetamol and never give aspirin to a child under 16 unless instructed to do so by a doctor.13
When will it get better?
Your child might experience growing pains for only a short time or on and off for a period of several years.14 The aches generally tend to stop by the onset of the teenage years—just as your child is developing an entirely new, hormone-related set of issues to deal with!
Your job as a parent may never be finished but rest assured that help and advice are always available.