What causes growing pains in children?

Lots of things get called as “growing pains” but merely because there's pain in a growing child does not mean it is a real growing pain. You can certainly dismiss pain in a growing child as this. A genuine growing pain only happens during the night and not in the daytime. The discomfort is also in the upper calf muscle and behind the knee. If the pain occurs in the daytime and in another area than the back of the leg and knee, then it is not a true growing pain and is most likely because of something else that needs to be looked into. Generally, it only occurs in younger kids and wakes the child at night. There is no history of trauma or any kind of damage to the location that the pain occurs in.

Growing pains usually are relatively benign and self-limiting, in that they do come right after a while. Nevertheless, they could be upsetting to the child and parents at the time and, more importantly, there are some very serious and rare disorders which can have signs much like growing pains, so each case must be taken seriously and looked into to eliminate these other possible reasons. The consequences of neglecting these rare reasons for similar symptoms can be significant.

The standard management of growing pains is simply reassurance of the child. They need to be comforted and helped to get back to sleep. Gentle massage or rubbing of the leg will often be useful. In some cases medication may be used to help the pain and ease the returning to sleep. Stretching prior to going to bed and when the pain occurs can also be useful. Of most importance is education in regards to the nature of growing pains and that it will pass as well as an assessment of those possible unusual and serious reasons for the discomfort.