It was Sunday evening when he started to complain. My son had played a soccer game on Saturday, a baseball game on Sunday, and we were driving home from a birthday party. “My leg, it hurts so bad!” he whimpered, “around my knee and thigh”. Knowing that it had been a long weekend, and that he was tired, I didn’t pay too much attention and told him he just needed some sleep. But you can imagine my guilt when he woke up crying at 11:00 PM, due to the pain in his leg. I gave him some Ibuprofen, an ice pack and some cuddles, and he eventually drifted back to sleep. But it got me thinking–was he experiencing growing pains (Something which I thought were a bit of a wives tale)? Breezy Mama turned to trusted pediatrician, Dr. Gillin for answers.
What are growing pains–do they really exist?
Growing pains are leg pains. They usually occur during preschool ages and pre-teen ages. They occur later in the day, and often at night.
Can they occur anywhere on the body? My 9-year-old is complaining of pain in the knee and thigh area.
They usually occur in the thighs, legs, and behind the knees.
What should we do when our children complain of pain like this? Ibuprofen and ice?
Massaging often helps. Also, the leg pains often occur after kids have been active- so rest from too much activity will help.
You can give Ibuprofen, but I caution you to not give medications too frequently. I prefer to massage the legs, and rest than to give kids a lot of meds. Once in a while is reasonable, but not all the time.
Are growing pains compounded by physical activity? For example, my son had a soccer game, followed by a baseball game the next day, then he was complaining.
Yes. They occur after a lot of activity. If the pains are waking him up, consider having him rest for a day or two.
Do children “grow out of” growing pains?
Yes. But when they occur, they can occur for weeks, or longer. So if they seem to be persistent, rest and see what happens.
Any other advice?
Yes- leg pains are not always growing pains. If your child has had a trauma, or has swelling, persistent pain in only one spot/ only one leg consistently, or has fevers, limping, or other symptoms then please see your doctor.
Co-founder of Coast Pediatrics Del Mar , Shakha Gillin, MD, FAAP, has been in North County since 1990. She attended UCSD for her undergraduate education and for medical school. She did her residency at UC Irvine, and was the chief resident at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach. She practiced pediatrics in La Jolla for 5 years and Encinitas for 5 years. She has also worked at a private practice in Newport Beach and at the Rady Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.
Dr. Shakha Gillin has a special interest in preventative care, particularly healthy and active lifestyles for children. She was recognized by San Diego Magazine as a “Top Doctor” in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. She was recognized as “Best Pediatrician” by Ranch and Coast in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
For more information and to contact Dr. Gillin, visit: www.coastpediatrics.com