Growing pains are harmless intermittent pains that occur in the leg muscles. They occur in 10 to 20% of children and usually start between ages 4 and 6.
Since they occur late in the day, they are probably due to running and playing hard, not due to any known injury. There is no evidence that they are caused by growth, and they don’t occur during a period of rapid growth. However, they have been called growing pains for over 100 years and no better term has come along to replace it.
The physical exam is normal. Lab tests and X-ray studies are not helpful, A clinical diagnosis is based upon the typical pain pattern and the absence of any joint swelling, limited range of motion, limping or fever.
Usually the pains are mild, don't last long and no treatment is necessary. Massage of the sore muscles can help the pain go away. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen if the pain lasts more than 30 minutes.
Growing pains come and go for several years. They are rarely seen after 10 years of age.
Research has shown that daily stretching exercises can prevent most growing pains. Have someone teach you how to stretch the quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Stretch each muscle several times late in the day, before the time that the growing pains usually occur.
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