|

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 FamilyEducation.com 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.

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 Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Surprising Sources of Caffeine in Kids' Foods
Even low doses of caffeine can have an effect on your child's health. Since the FDA doesn't require caffeine content on food labels, learn about hidden sources of caffeine in kids' diets.

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