Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Growing Pains

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My daughter complains of pain in her legs at night (specifically her shins). The pediatrician told me they are just "growing pains", and to give her Tylenol. I didn't care for that explanation and took her to another pediatrician, who gave me the same answer! Could there be such a thing?

A: There is a type of leg pain called growing pains, however there is no evidence that it has anything to do with the growth of the bones. No one knows what the cause is. We should probably find a better name for it! Growing pains occur primarily in children ages 4 to 10. The typical description is pain in both legs, the shins, calves, or thighs, which usually occurs toward the end of the day, particularly when the child has been active. They get better with rest, and are totally resolved in the morning when the child wakes up. Most children stop having these pains by adolescence, and they are totally benign. There is often some emotional component to the complaint, and they may occur more frequently during times of upheaval or stress.

It is important to make sure you do not call all leg pain in kids "growing pains," and if the pain doesn't fit the criteria I just mentioned, it likely needs to be evaluated further. Pain that only occurs in one leg, or occurs in the joints, is not growing pains. If there is any swelling or color change of the legs along with the pain, it is not growing pains. If the pain does not resolve with some Tylenol and a night's sleep, it is not growing pains.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks