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What a Pain! Kids and Growing Pains

You're getting bigger and growing up. But for some kids, growing up comes with something called growing pains.

What Are Growing Pains?

Growing pains aren't a disease. You probably won't have to go to the doctor for them. But they can hurt. Usually they start when kids are between the ages of 3 and 12. Doctors don't believe that growing actually causes pain, but growing pains do stop when kids stop growing. By the teen years, most kids don't get growing pains anymore.

Kids get growing pains in their legs. Most of the time they hurt in the front of the thighs (the upper part of your legs), in the calves (the back part of your legs below your knees), or shins (the front part of your legs below your knees), or behind the knees. Usually, both legs hurt.

What Causes Growing Pains?

Growing pains don't hurt around the bones or joints (like your knees or ankles) — only in the muscles. For this reason, some doctors think that kids might get growing pains when they run, climb, or jump a lot during the day. When you are more active than usual, you might have aches and pains in your legs at night.

What Can I Do to Feel Better?

Your parent can help your growing pains feel better by giving you an over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Here are three other things that might help you feel better:

  1. Put a heating pad on the spot where your legs hurt.
  2. Stretch your legs like you do in gym class.
  3. Have your parent massage your legs.

When to Go to the Doctor

If you have a fever, are limping when you walk, or your leg looks red or is swollen (puffed up), your parent should take you to the doctor. Growing pains should not keep you from running, playing, and doing what you normally do. If you have leg pain during the day, tell your parent.

You might never feel any growing pains, but if you do, remember that before you know it, you will outgrow them!

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2021

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