Some girls and boys complain of muscle aches around bedtime
or wake up with pains in their legs and arms after sleeping for an hour or two. These aches are sometimes called growing pains. Although no one knows for sure what’s behind them, growth is not the cause; even at the peak of an adolescent growth spurt, a child’s rate of growth is too gradual to be painful.
Growing pains may consist of tenderness caused by overwork during hard exercise
. Children don’t feel sore while they’re having fun; only later, when the muscles relax, do the pains come on.
What Parents Can Do to Help Lessen the Pain
You may not be able to prevent growing pains, but you can help your child lessen the aches.
- Call for periodic rest breaks during energetic play and encourage your child to take part in a variety of sports and activities. In this way, he’ll give different muscle groups a workout and avoid overstraining the same muscles day after day.
- A warm bath before bedtime may help soothe muscles and ease aches.
- When growing pains are bothersome, gently massage your child’s limbs.
- A dose of children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be helpful.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Call your pediatrician if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain
- Swelling that doesn’t decrease or that grows worse after 24 hours, despite first aid with rest, ice or a cool compress, compression, and elevation (RICE) treatment
- A persistent lump in a muscle
- Reddening or increased warmth of the skin overlying the muscle
- Dark urine, especially after exercise (If severe enough, this may require emergency care.)