Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

January 16, 2020 // Archive

Date based archive
16 Jan


Sometimes it can appear “the boy who cried wolf” might be occurring when children complain. However, when it comes to complaints about aches and pains in the body, specifically those that may not be visible, a child or preteen might be telling the truth about their growing pains. These crampy, achy, muscle pains can occur in both legs. They usually onset in the afternoon or evening and can keep the child awake. They might start as early as age 3, can subside for a number of years, and then resurface about age 8 to 12.

Even though they are called growing pains, that doesn’t mean these symptoms are the result of actual growth spurts. Instead, the muscles may in fact be worn out due to activity. Running, jumping, and climbing are the common culprits. A full day of sports can certainly cause this. The pains might come and go, and some children can eventually outgrow them. The pains normally go away in the morning and doesn’t disrupt the performance of actual activity during the day. The pain arises when the child comes home and in the evening. The main areas are the knees, quads, back of the knee, and the calves.

Getting checked by a doctor is always a good consideration. The doctor will ask pertinent questions for diagnosis. If the child is having growing pains, a doctor won’t exactly see anything abnormal even in an X-ray. The key is easing the discomfort for the child. Massaging the legs can be helpful to increase circulation and alleviate tight muscles. Stretching can help, although young children might have difficulty with this. Heating pads or a warm bath can be effective. A doctor might recommend an over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen. Aspirin should never be given to a child. If the pain is only in one leg, it may be a more serious condition. There could have been a fall or injury. Limping or difficulty walking might be more serious as well.

Communication is important with the child to understand the source and site of pain. Then choosing a treatment plan accordingly can be done. Just like adults, everyone varies in their tolerance for pain. Staying awake at night because of pain is never good.