kid holding knee

The term “growing pains” refers to more than just an 80’s television show about the Seaver family. According to Kids Health, growing pains occur in about 25 to 40 percent of children, and can cause muscle aches and pains in the front of the thighs, in the calves or behind the knees. But what exactly is causing the pain?

Contrary to what many parents believe, there is no clear-cut evidence that bone growth is the cause of the pain. Instead, it is a general consensus among medical professionals that growing pains are a result of active play such as, jumping, climbing and running throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, the pains can also be linked to a lower pain threshold or even certain psychological issues.

sad daughter

Growing pains typically make their first appearance in early childhood, between three to five years of age. The pains then return a little later in childhood, usually between eight to twelve years of age. They most frequently strike in late afternoon or evening, sometimes even waking the child during the night. For most children, the pain usually subsides by morning.

Fortunately, growing pains have a short lifespan; usually disappearing altogether after adolescence. That being said, should your child display any of the following symptoms, be sure to see a doctor right away:

  •  The pain is persistent.
  • The pain is still present in the morning.
  • The pain is severe enough to interfere with your child’s normal activities.
  • The pain is concentrated in the joints.
  • The pain is associated with an injury or accompanied by other abnormal symptoms such as fever, chills or headaches.

child doctor

If your child is experiencing growing pains, there are ways to ease the symptoms. Try applying a heating pad or hot water bottle in 15-20 minute increments to the area of pain, and administer ibuprofen. Massaging the sore area can also be very helpful in relieving symptoms.

So even though growing pains aren’t caused by actual growth per se, they are caused by overuse of the child’s musculoskeletal system. With so many activities for them to enjoy during the summer, it can be hard to get them to rest. If your child is displaying the symptoms, do your best to have them sit out on a few activities until symptoms subside.

As a parent, you know your child best and what behaviors are abnormal. As long as your child isn’t experiencing any of the above symptoms, you can set your mind as ease as well as your child’s.